The vile conditions at the Port of Spain Mortuary were allowed to reach critical stage because nobody took special care and attention to what was happening, Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan said yesterday.
“The project management unit was not moving as fast as they should and people just delayed. Apparently if something does not hit the media at that level nothing is done,” Khan told reporters after a Public/Private Sector media briefing at the Finance Ministry, Eric Williams Financial Complex, Port of Spain.
On Monday, the Express exclusively reported that three unidentified decomposing bodies had contaminated the entire chiller area, after the refrigeration system malfunctioned on August 17.
“It’s in a disgusting, bad state and I was hoping hospital admin would have done work on it before. Obviously that has not happened it has now reached a critical stage of an emergency and has to get done. As we speak I think the CEO is signing off on it,” Khan said.
Also at Port of Spain, Khan said the nurses hostel at the General Hospital was to be demolished and a new five-storey structure established.
“Nurses were given notices. They were there for a while. The place was in a mess. Some nursing students (from COSTAATT) were there but the majority of people there were illegal squatters. Security did not see it fit to check who was living there—I understand there are even vagrants. The place is a total mess,” he said.
He added that Tertiary Education Minister Fazal Karim had asked for an extension of eviction until September 30, by which time he will find them new location.
Khan also commented on the death of triplets at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex at Mt Hope. “I found out the triplets were 26 weeks old, and so were premature. That’s the problem with multiple pregnancies, they result in prematurity and you can end up with a situation where the respiratory system is compromised. They died from respiratory distress, is what I was told. We have been saving babies at 26 weeks but it’s a challenge,” he said.
The death of this set of multiples comes after the very high-profile deaths of three of the nation’s first set of sextuplets. Khan said it was not because the neonatal unit at the hospital was not up to standard as it was “geared”, but the ministry is in the process of upgrading and developing the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
He added that he will also be considering adding GPS and RFID locater tags on hospital equipment, so if they are removed, as was the case of a CT scanner at San Fernando General Hospital, they can easily be tracked.