Letters & Opinion

St. Jude and the Art of the Con — Part 6: The Danger of Hindsight

David Prescod
By David Prescod, Engineer & Project Manager — former CEO of WASCO

WE stopped last week with a repetition of the plea from the Chairman of the Board of St. Jude that the keys of the hospital be handed over to him.

This is the proper solution to this Government’s self-induced nightmare: hand over the hospital to the Board of St. Jude immediately, that is, in its current state. The Board and management of the hospital can then determine what they wish to keep and what they wish to change, at which point every St. Lucian will again willingly contribute to completion of this facility.

We have little expectation, however, that this will happen.

Because, now that we have seen this parade of individuals taking a casual look at the construction and announcing that we should ignore the EC$100 million spent on this facility, discard it and build a new facility, we must ask just where those individuals were when, in 2010, the then UWP government was begging little schoolchildren to donate their “sweetie” money to the reconstruction of this hospital. Just how much did they themselves contribute?

Where were these soulless and heartless charlatans during the five-year tenure of the SLP administration, a period during which Dr. Anthony repeatedly announced, in Parliament, the changes in scope and cost of construction of this hospital? Where were their objecting voices?

And the UWP, now so supposedly concerned with St. Jude that it visited the site and made its first blame-allocating statement within ten days of taking office in June 2016, why did it keep its mouth so tightly shut those five years during which they claim that the former SLP administration allowed this project to “go to the dogs”? Why did such a supposedly scandalous project not form part of the 2016 election campaign? Are we to believe that these UWP politicians all simply sat back and allowed this catastrophe to unfold so that now, on coming into office, they can portray themselves as this hospital’s saviours?

And still with the UWP, having allowed this country to spend EC$100 million on reconstructing what they are portraying as a near worthless hospital facility, are they now prepared to abandon it in the interest of covering themselves in the glory of being the government to build this country another “brand new”, “state-of-the-art” hospital for another EC$100 million?

There is ample video evidence to confirm that the Board and management of St. Jude were closely involved in the design and reconstruction of this hospital. This is as it should have been as they are the true “Client”. It is their wishes that must be served, not the self-serving expressions of those who would impose some supposed “world-class” standards of design which exist only in their minds.

And there is also ample video evidence to confirm that many of the supposed defects which are being portrayed as having now come to light have existed for most of the last six years.

Those design issues will be addressed in forthcoming articles, but for now allow me to remind our Prime Minister of some of the statements that he made at his first press conference on September 19, 2016. In describing Victoria Hospital’s inability to meet the high demand for dialysis, the Prime Minister advised that patients were choosing to die because they could not afford to pay the fees at Tapion Hospital.

Indicating a phased approach to the opening of the new Owen King-EU Hospital (OKEUH), and the intention of having the dialysis unit there up and running as quickly as possible, the Prime Minister advised that this unit was fully equipped except for the provision of dialysis chairs. He advised that those chairs could be in St. Lucia within six weeks, and then added: “I had to go and find another million dollars. I made it a priority to go and get that money, and to make sure that those machines are going to be available by the end of this year”. (youtube.com/watch?v=y8Wi8Y0VRZU – time stamp 1hr:18mins:11secs.)

More than one year later, Prime Minister, no dialysis service is available at the newly-built but still-shuttered OKEU Hospital, and so the questions to be asked are these: Having found that EC$1 million, did you purchase those dialysis chairs? If not, was it because there was a more pressing need for that EC$1 million which you had so graciously found?

But if you did purchase those chairs, where are they now? Because if they are to be found at the new OK-EU hospital, it would be unconscionable to think that you are allowing people to die by not having that service provided in a partially opened OKEU hospital.

But if you have bought those chairs and they are not at the OKEU hospital, where are they? Does this now mean that another EC$1 million audit is required into your use of this EC$1 million?

These questions are not intended to cast any aspersion on your character, Prime Minister, but are raised simply to point out the consequences of 20/20 hindsight.

We continue next week.

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