Letters & Opinion

IS THERE any hope for our hospitals and clinics?

By James Stanislaus

AS the war between Russia and Ukraine intensifies, the cost of living in St. Lucia will take another gigantic leap, further impacting the domestic finances of thousands of households and wreaking havoc on domestic consumption. Consequently, governments in the region must remain focused and prepared to address this inevitable outcome.

Recent unofficial reports confirm that there has been a resurgence of Covid cases on the island. Let us hope the government will quickly address this matter if these reports are indeed correct.

While on the subject of health issues, there are growing concerns about what’s taking place at the OKEU Hospital. Apparently, the Hospital is not equipped or prepared to deal with Covid. The cases are growing in numbers and the situation appears to be worsening on a daily basis.

The former administration took the necessary steps to retrofit Victoria Hospital with the understanding that the shortfall of beds at the OKEU would be compensated by those at Victoria. Millions of dollars were spent on the Victoria Hospital to ensure that it contained special wards to isolate patients with infectious diseases such as Covid. One would have expected this government would have retained some of the capacity to deal with infectious diseases, created by the Health sector’s response to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Unfortunately, the too obvious is not so obvious to the authorities.

The government does not have to be populated by geniuses to understand the importance of adopting that rational. Thus, it is astonishing, that the government has chosen to temporarily shut down Victoria Hospital for repurposing, inhibiting its ability to appropriately respond to these new Covid cases. While our PM is considering re-roofing the George Odlum Stadium, has it not dawned upon him that those funds would be better utilized, to equip the Victoria Hospital with a full-fledged operating theatre inclusive of x-rays, ultrasounds and a Cat Scan? This will ensure that patients will not have to sit on a chair and lay on the floor at OKEU for two to three days at a time, waiting to be attended to.

The government can easily secure a few Cuban specialists on a two-to-three-year contract to make Victoria Hospital a sound, secondary health facility to address the present medical mayhem. Additionally, government can easily hive off one million US dollars from the $200 million Saudi fund and replenish the basic medical supplies required at our hospitals and health clinics around the island.

Government can also consider working in tandem with some local pharmacies on island to provide a small pharmacy at the main hospitals to assist the ordinary man in need of his medication. The opening of this small pharmacy should be from 7:00 am to 10:30 pm. Sundays and holidays should be included to meet the SLP slogan of putting the people first.

The George Odlum Stadium has been a major disappointment from the start for several reasons. The maintenance cost and utilization period simply does not mesh. The location of the stadium in the path of the Atlantic Sea blasts is and will remain a major concern. Having smaller stadiums within the constituencies remain more productive and effective game plan.

The Darren Sammy Stadium also has similar sea blast issues. These issues render outrageous maintenance costs. However, based on its usage, at least, the few cricket matches that we attract annually, needs to be factored into the economic and social equation.

St Lucia has a very small economy and does not have the latitude to support the various infrastructural requirements. Hence, we must choose wisely where our limited means permit us.

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