Duke: Make Roxborough hospital a priority

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

PDP Political leader Watson Duke. – Photo by David Reid

PROGRESSIVE Democratic Patriots (PDP) political leader Watson Duke has called for the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) to make the full operationalisation of the Roxborough Health Facility a priority.

The facility was built at a cost of $98 million, with the Tobago Regional Health Authority collecting the keys in May 2021. However, it remains underutilised and is not open 24/7.

At a recent plenary sitting, Secretary of Health Dr Faith BYisrael blamed Central Government for the delay. She said some of the equipment at the opening under the previous PNM THA administration was borrowed from other facilities.

BYisrael, who was named health secretary in December 2021, said the building “was not purpose-built” and the new administration encountered difficulties getting certification for some services.

“We had to go back and retrofit, in some instances move walls…

“We are at the point where we are able to provide the health centre services, outpatient services, are currently there, accident and emergency services are available from 7am-7pm. Wwe are now testing in-patient services.”

Last month, a Speyside mother – Nadea Shanghie ­– and her newborn baby died at the Scarborough hospital. Duke recently claimed there had been a few deaths at the hospital over the years that were the result of poor management systems.

Duke said 24-hour service at the Roxborough facility would benefit Tobago and “take the load off the east coming to west for healthcare services.”

He said it was a shame that had not yet happened.

“They cannot operationalise the Roxborough Health Facility to its fullest capacity,” he said in an interview with Tobago Updates on June 3.

“You must understand, when you’re leading, you have to lead. It means there are priorities and there are things that are not priorities.

“Operationalising the Roxborough hospital to the fullest capacity is a top-tier priority for the Division for Health – that should come first…

“Right now it’s up to 7 ‘clock, 8 o’ clock at night and after that, if yuh get sick – down to Scarborough.”

He said a shift system should be set up to make healthcare services available at night.

He said many Tobagonian doctors have to go to Trinidad for work and there are many nurses in Trinidad who are unemployed, but would be willing to come to Tobago.

Duke called for an audit of health personnel.

“When a nation is serious about development, make a call to your diaspora to come and build your country…

“What are we doing? We are running them from our country.”