Health Minister Nikolas Steele has dismissed claims made by an opposition political activist that there is no respiratory machine stationed at the Princess Royal Hospital in Carriacou.
A few weeks ago a young lady, Sheriel Joseph Thomas who came down from the United States to visit her sick mother on the sister isle of Carriacou died at Princess Royal after being rushed to the hospital while she was having an asthma attack.
It was alleged that the young lady lost her life because the hospital was unable to provide oxygen to her due to the unavailability of a respiratory machine.
Caretaker for the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Tevin Andrews who sympathised with the family of the deceased, expressed disappointment over the incident and suggested that should government claim that there is no money to purchase a respiratory machine then the island’s 15 elected Parliamentarians should take a cut from their $10, 000 monthly constituency allowances to obtain the much needed equipment for the health services of the country.
However, in an interview with THE NEW TODAY, Health Minister Nicholas Steele charged that “the statement made by that individual is not correct,” noting that “there was an unfortunate passing of someone in Carriacou but it was not according to the statements made.”
“There is a machine that has been existing in Carriacou for many years,” the Health Minister, said.
He also used the opportunity to commend the District Medical Officer in Carriacou for personally carrying the now deceased woman to the Hospital.
The Health Minister also commended the staff at Princess Royal for the “effort made to save that person’s (Thomas) life while expressing the view that it is nothing but “a slap in the face for someone else to use it (the death) for some sort of political mileage.”
This newspaper on Monday contacted the NDC Caretaker for comment on the minister’s statement and Andrews maintained his position.
He pointed out that his “sources” reassured him that “there is no respiratory machine at the Princess Royal Hospital in Carriacou.”
“As a matter of fact I understand that there is only one such machine operating within the tri-island state and it’s located at the General Hospital in St. George’s,” he affirmed.
The NDC caretaker for Carriacou and Petite Martinique said he is not a medical doctor to say whether or not the young lady died because there was no respiratory machine at the hospital but according to his sources who work at the hospital, there is no such machine at Princess Royal.
“Hence, the reason I made the statement. And I am standing firm with the statement made with regards to there being no respiratory machine at the Carriacou hospital,” he added
“It is sad that the Minister of Health who is supposed to have an idea of what the different hospitals and clinics are supposed to have is not aware that a major hospital like (Princess Royal) Carriacou does not have a respiratory machine,” he said.
Andrews also called on Minister Steele to ensure that there are more doctors on the sister isles.
According to him there are currently two medical doctors – one resident and one visiting to attend to the one hospital and five clinics on the two small islands.
Andrews said that this “is not enough” with both islands together having a population of more than 5, 000 persons and he is calling for at least “three to four resident doctors to be assigned.”
“We have always had problems where the visiting doctors have to leave the island and we have to wait a long time, sometimes a few weeks before we get another doctor and the pressure is left on the lone residential doctor (who he referred to as Dr. Davis) alone and there are times when Dr. Davis has to leave and we are left with no doctor at all.”
Andrews believes that the Minister of Health should do better in terms of health care in Carriacou.
“People should not be dying because there are no equipment, people should not be suffering because there are no doctors at our clinics and our hospitals,” he said, noting that “we are living in the 21st century and it is unfortunate that those things are still happening today.”
“It is funny that I remember our Minister for Health, Nicholas Steele back then when he was Caretaker for the Town of St. George with a placard demanding better health care for Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique and almost three years that his administration is in office and he has been Minister for Health and there has not been any significant improvement with the health care”, he told THE NEW TODAY.