Gopeesingh: No assurances to pregnant mothers

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Dr Tim Gopeesingh –

DR Tim Gopeesingh, gynaecologist/obstetrician and former cabinet minister, alleged that the authorities have failed to give any assurance to TT’s pregnant women in the face of the recent deaths of seven newborn babies within a week due to a bacterial infection at the neonatal unit at Port of Spain General Hospital (PoSGH), plus four other recent baby deaths.

He was speaking at a UNC briefing on Sunday.

“We expect the RHAs (regional health authorities) to say what they have done to allay the fears of pregnant women.

“We are not hearing anything.”

Gopeesingh said Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh had referred queries to respective RHAs.

“They sat on it and now it is too late,” Gopeesingh commented.

He offered his advice by listing some causes of babies being born prematurely.

These were multiple pregnancies, infections, traumatised mothers, history of pre-term babies, senior age, and social problems.

He alleged the health system has begun to collapse, in contrast to official denials by the North West RHA where PoSGH is located.

Gopeesingh said he had faith in the Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) pending three-person investigation team of responsible people.

“But we don’t have confidence the Government will use the recommendations to better the care at neonatal units.”

He claimed the Government had ignored the findings of a committee by Prof Terence Seemungal in 2022 on covid19 management. The report lamented hospital staff shortages (managers, doctors, nurses), overwork, poor nurse-to-patient ratios, and demoralising short-term locum contracts for young doctors.

Gopeesingh opined that the head of infection control at PoSGH, who was sent on administrative leave following the spate of baby deaths, was simply being made a scapegoat in the whole affair.

He said that person only had an advisory role but no real power to mandate that certain things be done.

Gopeesingh called for the reopening of the Couva Children’s Hospital, displaying a past video that had listed its many facilities, including MRI, CT and operating theatres. Equipment has been lying idle here, while other hospitals do not even have such equipment, he lamented.

He said it was built in 2015 but nine years later was now closed.

“It is pure hate, malice, spite and vindictiveness,” he remarked on the closure.

Gopeesingh said the hospital’s location was easily accessible from north and south Trinidad and it would ease up Mount Hope Women’s Hospital.

He called on Deyalsingh, plus the NWRHA board and CEO, to all exit office.

Endorsing UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s call to open the hospital, he said if it had been open, many lives could have been saved.

Gopeesingh said if the children’s hospital had been open, that would have allowed the examination of some babies from PoSGH to ease overcrowding at the latter facility.

“The entire Government must go! Kamla Persad-Bissessar speaks for the voiceless, the dispossessed.”

He denied any politicisation of current events, saying if she was the Opposition leader, she must speak out. Gopeesingh wished Persad-Bissessar a happy birthday, due on Monday.

He said proposals were not enacted from the Welch Report, such as getting a partner for Couva Hospital and attracting offshore medical schools to TT, saying Barbados has five such schools.

Gopeesingh alleged a worsening health sector, with a two to three-year wait for emergency surgery, while 300-400 doctors remained unemployed.

He suggested more neonatal specialist doctors and nurses be trained, lamenting that at present some general nurses do the work of certain specialist nurses.

Saying the Government must go, Gopeesingh said Rowley was fumbling.

“I have known him for 50 years and expected better of him, but he has not done do.”