Ex-SWRHA chair: Save lives – build cardiac lab at SFGH

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Dr. Lackram Bodoe. Photo by – Vidya Thurab

WITH heart disease being one of the major causes of death in Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Lackram Bodoe is advocating for the building of a cardiac catherisation laboratory at the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH).

A former chairman of the board of the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA), under which the SFGH falls, Bodoe said such a facility would save lives.

He recalled a space was identified for the construction of such a lab under the People’s Partnership administration.

He told the United National Congress (UNC) virtual report meeting on Monday night designs were done and the project was sent out for tendering by 2015.

The PP lost the general election and was replaced by the People’s National Movement (PNM) Government in 2015.

“Seven years later and this PNM Government is yet to start this project.”

He said the last time he raised the matter in Parliament, Health Minister Terrence Deylsingh said his government had more urgent priorities.

“What urgent priorities?”

The Fyzabad MP explained when someone hasa heart attack and goes to the public health facility, that patient is triaged, investigations are done and treatment is started.

“In a great number of cases you require a procedure called a coronary angiogram to determine the extent of the blockage in your heart blood vessels.

“This angiogram procedure and (subsequent stenting if required) is done in a facility called a cardiac catherisation laboratory, and quick diagnosis and treatment is standard in other developed countries.

“This is not available at the SFGH, which means you either pay the $10,000 required to get it done privately or you join the Ministry of Health waiting list for the Government to pay for it.”

While waiting for the angiogram, depending on the urgency of the situation, Bodoe said some doctors go ahead and begin treatment without the benefit of a proper and complete investigation

“I call on the Minister of Health and the Government to build the cardiac catherisation laboratory at SFGH.

“While the population is waiting for this facility…patients continue to die from heart disease, whilst waiting on the MOH to outsource their procedures or to join the waiting list at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Centre (EWMSC).”

He also called for an update on the planned renal dialysis unit promised for the Couva Hospital.

After spending close to $40 billion in the health sector over the past seven years, excluding covid 19 expenditure, Bodoe claimed, “Things have gotten worse, not better.

“It is time to resuscitate and save a collapsing health sector, and indeed all the sectors in TT.”

Now that the covid 19 pandemic is receding and some sense of normality is returning, those seeking healthcare in public hospitals and health centres are facing numerous problems, he said.

He said the effects are now being seen because the much-touted two-tier healthcare system, often boasted about by the MOH as a parallel healthcare system, proved to be a hoax, as the same staff were rotated between the two systems.

The rotation of anaesthetists would have resulted in a backlog of surgery for hip and knee replacement, cataracts, cancer, hernia and gallbladder inflammation, with a waiting list as long as one-two years

“Quite often when doctors and nurses are ready to do their jobs in the operating theatre, they are faced with shortage of critical drugs, and of course your surgery gets cancelled.”

While some of these resource issues may be global-supply-chain-related, Bodoe blamed the bulk of it on failure by the Government to buy and supply these items in a timely manner.