Augustus Long Hospital to become South Cancer Centre by June/July

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh addressing the media during a visit to healthcare workers at the Augustus Long hospital in Pointe-a-Pierre. – File photo by Lincoln Holder

IF all goes according to plan, the Augustus Long Hospital (ALH) in Pointe-a-Pierre will be converted into the South Cancer Centre by June or July.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh made this announcement on March 25 when he promised a significant boost to the way the ministry treats cancer.

He added that the oncology unit at the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) would be moved to the ALH, starting with eight beds.

“San Fernando is going to have its first government-funded palliative care unit at Augustus Long.”

Deyalsingh said ALH would be on par with the St James Medical Centre in terms of chemotherapy and so on.

He spoke at an autoclave handover ceremony at the San Fernando Teaching Hospital.

ALH formerly belonged to the now-defunct state-owned oil company Petrotrin and, like the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH), now falls under the South-West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA).

Deyalsingh said the move was thanks to the co-operation of Energy and Energy Industries Minister Stuart Young, who was instrumental in transferring the property to the SWRHA.

Apart from himself and Young, he said San Fernando West MP Faris Al-Rawi and Planning and Development Minister Pennelope Beckles were involved in the revitalisation and redevelopment of the SWRHA.

Deyalsingh criticised recent comments by TT Cancer Society chairman Dr Asante Le Blanc before a joint select committee of the Parliament.

“The testimony of Dr Asante LeBlanc, unfortunately, was a gross exaggeration, filled with a lot of inaccurate information.

“We are beefing up our radiological services at Port of Spain Hospital and the new Sangre Grande hospital with mammography machines,” Deyalsingh said.

“I take with ten pounds of salt everything that Dr Le Blanc said. She was uncomfortable and unfamiliar with the truth.”

Le Blanc said there was always a shortage of breast and prostate cancer drugs in the public healthcare system. She added that even though newer medications had been approved, they are not available in the public health system, and patients were given outdated versions.

She has since apologised to the ministry.