Opposition Leader: Use Couva hospital for children

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Couva Hospital and Multi-Training Facility

OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is demanding that the Government immediately open the Couva hospital as it was intended to be – a children’s hospital first and foremost.

Since 2018, the facility has been rebranded as the Couva Medical and Multi-Training Facility.

Persad-Bissessar said while the Government changed its name, “a rose by any other name is still a rose.”

The UNC leader believed that had the Government opened it on time, it could have saved many lives including the recent deaths of at least 11 babies at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the Port of Spain General Hospital (PoSGH).

“It would have most certainly prevented the horrendous, scandalous tragedy of 11 new-born babies dying at the PoSGH’s NICU,” Persad-Bissessar said.

“There is no excuse that the Rowley Government can now make to continue to delay opening the Couva Children’s Hospital.”

The UNC leader spoke at a press briefing on April 19 at the Office of the Opposition Leader in Port of Spain.

In August 2015, weeks before the general election, the then-prime minister cut the ribbon to open the Couva Children’s Hospital.

The state-of-the-art facility was supposed to specialise in medical care for children and house a much-needed burns unit. It was also expected to create hundreds of jobs for health-care and other professionals and ultimately opened TT up to medical tourism.

She added, “The Children’s Hospital fiasco will forever remain a testament to this Government’s malicious, vicious, anti-people nature, a symbol of their destruction of our nation. When I became Prime Minister in 2010, a major challenge was fixing the seriously failing health sector, under which mothers would often die in childbirth.”

“The Couva Children’s Hospital was therefore instrumental to my administration’s health sector reform. It was a state-of-the-art institution, strategically located to buffer overcrowding at both the San Fernando General and Mt Hope hospitals.”

On the deaths, investigations are ongoing, including an independent probe by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). But Persad-Bissessar believes that nothing would come of it.

She added, “We all know that this is just a pappy show. We all know that even if this probe is done, and a report handed in, he (Rowley) will refuse to do anything about it. Look at his track record.”

Several families have initiated legal action against the hospital and the North West Regional Health Authority owing to the deaths by a suspected bacterial infection.