It genuinely pains me to see the state of our health care system in St. Lucia. For something that should be an undoubted priority, it seems that it has taken a backseat as everyone has politics, national security, and the economy on the brain…not that these issues are not important, but in my opinion, health care should be at the top of that list because an unhealthy nation means an unhealthy economy and all the ills that are bound to ensue.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the islands’s main hospital, VH, and the way that this facility is run, beggars belief. When you tell me that a packed maternity ward is manned by one doctor and about six nurses at night, an emergency room is manned by one doctor and two on a good day and about five nurses as well, leaving patients to sit in a waiting room for well over six hours…something is seriously wrong.
To add to these issues, and mind you, I only pointed out two out of many examples, there are so many cases of people dying at the hospital inexplicably…mothers in labour, children with asthma, people coming in with easily treatable ailments just…gone and the families are left to grieve without closure as they never receive true or sufficient information about their loved ones’ passing. One would think that they might as well stay home and die as opposed to going to the hospital where you are in discomfort for hours, get poked and prodded by frustrated and tired nurses and are placed in substandard rooms with beds that are kept together with planks of wood (I know about the wood for a fact…my bed had it whilst I was there for months and I SUFFERED Big Time).
The Health Minister has the gail to tell people to make use of the health centres before running to the hospitals yet doctors only attend certain heath centres on certain days and if you arrive after their patient quota is filled for the day, you’re screwed. So tell me why should I take my sick self over there? And to add insult to injury, I mean health centers are for the sick right? Then why is the place set up like the people are there to be punished with substandard furniture and basic facilities? It’s appalling! And some might say, well there’s always Tapion, if you’re going to complain then go to Tapion, where you will get five star treatment…I work hard and pay enough money monthly to deserve better treatment from our health facilities than this. I am not an animal and I don’t appreciate being treated as a second class or even third class citizen in my own country…as if my health care is simply an afterthought. Tapion is a poor excuse for a hospital because they will not hesitate to turn you away if you don’t have the load of money that they are demanding upfront so NO, I will not go to Tapion. I am disappointed that the people with the power to effect change and get the ball rolling, continuously choose to waste the budgets elsewhere rather than pump it into an area that is in dire need of attention and fixing.
I believe that here in St. Lucia our Health Care System leaves much to be desired. We receive sub-par treatment because basic health care is subsidized by the Government. Whilst we are being over charged by the private institutions, most of our population cannot seem to afford the high costs associated with meeting their health care needs. With regards to emergencies, the system somehow believes that people don’t fall sick on weekends since all of the outer health facilities are closed leaving the main hospital struggling and scrambling to provide an effective and efficient service. I would like to suggest that our government look into the exorbitant fees associated with health care here, and also look into having some of the health facilities in the larger communities like Gros Islet for example remain open on a weekend to lessen the burden on the main hospital. There are many opportunities for improvement in our health system here, but I also do appreciate that everything will not happen at once, and it is still a work in progress.
In most countries when things are going wrong, the Minister holding that particular portfolio does the correct thing by tendering his/her resignation. The same should be happening here. The Minister of Health must admit to herself that she has been a failure and that under her watch, the health of the nation has deteriorated drastically. Really, our health services have never been so poor in St Lucia. It shows a lack of leadership and guidance. In the circumstances the Minister of Health must do what any self-respecting Minister would do: get out and let someone else take a try at it.