In the Alvear Hospital there are not enough employees in the hospital wards, in the laboratories, nor in the nursing department. According to the Auditor General of the City of Buenos Aires, although staff costs in 2011 increased 36.94% and there was a 99.76% execution rate, the increase was not reflected in the hiring of more human resources.
In the care unit, for example, "some beds are not available because of staff shortages”. Specifically, of the 94 beds only 68 were available for use. In the report approved in June of this year, the report stated that in 2011 "34 new beds were brought to the hospital units, but because of the understaffing they had not been able to significantly increase their capacity."
Another of the most important observations made by the auditors is that "although the length of the stay should not exceed 45 days, the average stay in psychiatric units in 2011 was of 59.1 days". The area recorded with the "greatest variation" was the teenage girls’ area with 81 days. It’s important to point out that the Torcuato de Alvear Hospital, located on 2630 Warnes Avenue, is a public health center "specialized in resolving emergencies and psychiatric techniques of short term and intensive therapy emergencies", that’s why the observations made by the audit become even substantial.
In 2012, while the audit was conducted, the AGCBA noted that "the lab was not working because there was no biochemical technician, because he was on an extended leave of absence." Because of this, "the patients’ blood is taken out twice a week and these extractions are sent by a shuttle to the Durand Hospital to be analyzed. Then a nurse will go on bus to withdraw the samples." Regarding this topic, the watchdog added that "for some psychiatric medications laboratory studies are needed."
When it comes to the nurses’ department, "their department head evaluated the need to add 25 more nurses" but "the nurses’ interest to become part of the public hospital’s body is low because in the private sector they are offered better pay."
Finally, on security guards they noted that "they take care of the hospital’s cultural heritage but do not get involved in other cases," therefore, "in case of violence, the lack of security means the staff as well as the patients are not protected.”
In the rehabilitation process, which for many requires the intervention of the Hospital, the auditors stated that there "lacks a mental health network that’s coordinated, effective, and efficient." For example, "in the walk-in clinic there are no addiction services despite receiving patients who use substances and have a psychotic diagnosis." In the Ambulatory Care Division it is "difficult to refer people to a nearby care home either for lack of institutions, personnel or sometimes medication."
In the Adolescent Unit, the report says, "it is not easy to get personnel between the ages of 18 and 21 for Therapeutic Home jobs."
A Classic Occurrence in Public Centers
On obtaining appointments in external clinics, the watchdog observed that “there is no centralized call center”. That’s why, due to the demand, “patients have to get to the hospital before 4 a.m. to get an appointment”. The report added that despite this, "many times they leave with empty hands".