Blame is flying in all directions following the death of Tobagonian Rahil Hosein who needed brain surgery which was never performed because there was no cranial drill at the Port of Spain General Hospital.
The Express reported exclusively yesterday that Hosein,55, died on October 6 after he spent a week at Port of Spain General Hospital awaiting surgery for a brain tumour.
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan has said the drill was destroyed through an act of sabotage.
The Express yesterday spoke to several parties on why arrangements weren't put in place for a drill to be acquired to perform the life saving surgery on Hosein.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) Judith Balliram-Ramoutar told the Express by phone that an investigation was launched into Hosein's death and she could not divulge details pertaining to his case.
She did confirm that an emergency purchase was made last Friday for a new drill and surgeries had re-commenced.
Balliram-Ramoutar said some 60 patients have been awaiting brain surgery as there was no drill in the past three months.
She blamed the failure to perform these surgeries sooner on the fact that the hospital's house drill—the Midas Rex—went out of commission in March this year and drills rented from private companies kept breaking down.
Balliram-Ramoutar said there were attempts to fix the drill but the company did not respond in a timely basis.
Another drill was borrowed from the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC) and this was the drill that was allegedly sabotaged.
Balliram-Ramoutar said a tender (which takes four to six months) was conducted to acquire a new drill and a company was awarded the contract but that drill was not expected to arrive until the next two months.
Khan yesterday kept the blame on employees in the health sector who he said did not clean the drill properly, resulting in the loss of the $3 million piece of equipment.
"There was a new drill at Eric Williams, that drill is supposed to be cleaned by taking out the debris and tissue after surgery, they did not clean it properly, they put into an autoclave and it damaged the drill," said Khan.
"A drill is not like a power saw that you can go into Black and Decker and buy one," added Khan, who also noted that an entire tendering process must be adhered to.
He also disclosed that he was querying the qualifications of an employee who wrote him a letter stating the price of acquiring a drill was too high and a power saw should be purchased instead.
Khan said as it stands now there is only one drill operating in the country- at Port of Spain General Hospital.
He urged workers to take special care of multi-million dollar life-saving equipment and stressed the need for public private partnerships in lifting the standards of the health sector.
Khan also disclosed he had requested a report on Hosein's death.
Hosein's wife Abbygail Aji was emotional yesterday over the issue of the lack of a cranial drill at the Port of Spain General Hospital for four months.
She blamed the hospital authorities for giving patients false hope and leaving them to die.
"Rahil didn't get a chance, he was never given a chance. They could have told us they didn't have a drill months now, we could have put things in place and look at other options. In essence they lied to us saying he will get the surgery knowing fully well they had no drill and only told us this five days later," she said.
"It is good they bought a drill but it's too late for Rahil...at least other people will be saved. It is appalling that this is the way to get help. It is a sad situation," she added.
While Hosein lost his life, another patient—Fareeda Ibrahim, 49, of Gasparillo—underwent life-saving brain surgery yesterday at Port of Spain General Hospital.
Her relative Nicole Massiah told the Express that a response to her sister's plight was provoked only after she went on Ian Alleyne's Crime Watch programme on TV6 last week Thursday.
Massiah said her sister had been waiting on this surgery for almost five months now and would have died if she did not get it as she was haemorrhaging in the brain.
She said out of frustration of being told repeatedly that there was no drill at the hospital she decided to go public with the issue.
Massiah said it was a painful process going to the hospital and on every occasion there was some excuse why her sister's surgery could not be performed.
"There are some persons who tried but there are too many who did nothing...it's sad that a gentleman had to die in the process," said Massiah.