All I want for Christmas are my teeth!
This is the wish of Randolph Roberts, 59, of Oropune Gardens, Piarco, whose dentures went missing at Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC) in Mount Hope in October.
Since then, Roberts, a cancer patient, has been unable to talk properly or eat solid food without first liquefying it.
Last week Thursday, Roberts attended a North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) public meeting, where he emotionally delivered the story of his lost dentures and the lack of concern from hospital staff to find or replace them.
NCRHA chairman Dr Shehenaz Mohammed and acting chief executive officer Kumar Boodram immediately took action and assured Roberts that he will get his teeth for Christmas.
Roberts said a head nurse from the hospital visited him at his Oropune home and again assured he would get his teeth.
Last Friday, Boodram also visited Roberts’ home and gave him a wheelchair. “I said to him, I want my teeth, I want my teeth, I want my teeth for Christmas because I want to eat a piece of ham,” said Roberts.
Mohammed, when contacted by phone, said that Roberts will be getting his dentures before Christmas.
“The measurements will be taken and Mr Roberts’ dentures shall be available in about ten days’ time. We will ensure that he gets it before Christmas so he can enjoy his Christmas meal,” said Mohammed.
Mohammed advised that patients with dentures walk with suitable containers for storage as cleaning staff will easily remove styrotex cups in the cleaning process.
Speaking to the Express at his Oropune home, Roberts related how his dentures went missing.
He said he went to the hospital in pain and stayed there for some 18 days as a number of tests were conducted.
He said he was told he had dengue and then later told he had a prostate problem. Roberts said when he was examined by a specialist at the hospital he was told nothing was wrong with his prostate and was again sent for more tests.
“They start from scratch and take this test and that test, the only thing I didn’t take was the written test,” said Roberts.
He said some glands near his groin area were tested and he was diagnosed with blood cancer.
Roberts said he was sent home after the surgery. But a private doctor sent him back to the hospital as his condition had deteriorated. He was again warded at EWMSC.
Whilst there, Roberts said, one day his cell phone went missing and he complained bitterly, after which his phone re-appeared.
“By the time it was returned the screen saver changed and all the numbers I had on it gone,” said Roberts.
“After that they move me from that ward and send me up on a next ward in a room by myself.”
In that room, Roberts said, he normally took off his dentures and placed them in a styrotex cup on the side table.
“I put a tablet in the water which will clear all the bacteria.”
At 5.30 a.m. one day, someone came and shifted the table, cleaned the room and changed his diaper.
Roberts said a short while after he looked for his dentures, but they could not be found.
“I press the buzzer and the nurse came, I tell she my teeth missing, she said it in the drawer and walk off. I check the drawer, it not there, I press the buzzer again.”
Roberts expressed disappointment over the behaviour of hospital staff to such a sensitive situation.
He said his daughter wrote a letter the next day—October 15—to several hospital officials but got no response.
The letter spelled out the urgent need for her father to have his dentures as it affected his ability to eat and maintain a proper diet.
“Nobody responded, everybody blaming each other and nobody taking blame,” he said.
When he learnt of the NCRHA public meeting, he went there and poured his heart out.
Roberts said he is relieved that he will be getting his dentures, but will smile only when they are in his mouth.
“They did contact me and say they will send me to Maraval tomorrow to organise. I feel good because I really want to eat. It ain’t come true yet, but it on the line and all I want for Christmas is my teeth.”
Roberts said he was happy to be getting new dentures, even through they would not have gold in them like his previous set.