Opposition MP wants better maintenance at health facilities

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh and Dr Lackram Bodoe in the House of Representatives. – SUREASH CHOLAI

Fyzabad MP Dr Lackram Bodoe has called on Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh to look into maintenance at health facilities.

He said the Ministry of Health was not only falling down in terms of providing maintenance in dealing with plant and infrastructural issues, but also staffing and nursing shortages.

He said this against the backdrop of a power outage at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC), Mt Hope, last week, and after receiving information about broken windows at the San Fernando Teaching Hospital, as well as non-functioning toilets and elevators. He asked if Deyalsingh could verify these claims.

At the UNC’s Sunday weekly press briefing, Bodoe said on a daily basis citizens experienced significant challenges as they tried to access healthcare.

Bodoe said patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) were already quite ill and to have to transfer from one institution to another was unacceptable.

He added while this was not unknown in times of crises, to have this happening owing to lack of maintenance and other issues was “worrisome.”

Bodoe questioned a July 11 release by the ministry’s corporate communications department, asking if the money spent on electrical repairs at the hospital was well spent and why these issues persisted at the EWMSC.

The North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) said on discovering the failure of the transformer, the RHA’s incident response team, along with the EWMSC’s engineering staff, with support from T&TEC, responded by transferring the supply to a contingency electrical transformer.

It added that load-shedding was done as a precautionary measure and all critical ICU patients were transferred to Arima Hospital.

Bodoe asked if Deyalsingh had received an incident report and what steps were being taken to prevent it from happening again.

Highlighting media reports on cataract surgery at the San Fernando General Hospital being stopped, Bodoe said the machines there had served their time and were no longer useful.

He asked why it was taking so long to procure the new machines and if the Government was delaying the procurement to facilitate a friend or financier who was trying to sell an untried and untested brand of this particular type of machine.

A cataract machine costs $600,000 and one was hearing about exemptions in the amendments to the procurement legislation for purchases under $1 million, he said.

He also said the Government had a responsibility to provide adequate resources to the RHAs to enable them to do their jobs effectively, which included adequate staffing.

Bodoe also spoke to the nursing shortage as well as the Couva Hospital and Multi-Training Facility.

He questioned why the 230 beds and MRI and CT machines were not being made available to citizens when the pandemic was over and there were no covid19 patients at the facility.