BRAIN-INJURED car crash victim Roshan Ramgeawan would have needed $2,500 a day to pay the expenses of a private hospital for neurological treatment.
However, Ramgeawan, a labourer and married father of one, could not afford even a fraction of this amount as he had no medical insurance.
Neither could his parents, since his father is an Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) worker, and his mother a roti shop cook.
Ramgeawan died at Port of Spain General Hospital on Sunday, almost three months after his Datsun 120Y motorcar crashed on the M-2 Ring Road, La Romaine.
His wife and infant son survived with minor injuries.
However, because there is no full-time neurologist on staff at San Fernando General Hospital, a comatose Ramgeawan was transferred to the Port of Spain Hospital to be seen by a neurosurgeon.
His relatives claim that Ramgeawan was never given the neurological treatment needed. An autopsy found he died from blunt cranio cerebral trauma, bronchopneumonia, and cerebral infarction.
Ramgeawan's funeral was held at the family's Cap-de-Ville, Point Fortin home yesterday.
His mother, Karlene Ramdeen, said her son was placed in the intensive care unit of Port of Spain General Hospital where he remained for three weeks.
After that, Ramdeen said she was told by doctors that he was in a stable condition and was moved to another ward.
Ramdeen said even though CT scans and blood pressure monitoring tests were done, no surgery was performed.
She added that doctors told her they could not do any surgery because if they had opened her son's brain to do the surgery, it could have caused more damage.
According to Ramdeen, the CT scans showed that his brain was swollen. She said the doctors said they would have had to wait until he was awake before they could have done anything.
The family said they did not even think about sending Ramgeawan for treatment privately because of the exorbitant cost.
A retired nuerosurgeon told the Express that Ramgeawan did not need a neurosurgery operation but definitely neurosurgical care.
He said that care was available at public hospitals and very few people who suffer from blunt trauma to the head needed brain surgery.
In the private sector, these operations can cost anywhere between $20,000 to $100,000.
The doctor said if a person had to be treated privately, the average cost of treatment would be approximately $2,500 per day, including medication.
Ramgeawan would have had to stay several weeks before being discharged, the doctor said. Earlier this year, Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan stopped all outsourcing of medical services, with a new policy where permission would first have to be granted for patients who accessed public health care, to be treated privately, due to a deficiency in the public health system. Khan said yesterday there was no intention to reintroduce the system of outsourcing.
"If it is something that is life-threatening we may consider it. However if we could get the doctors to come into the public institutions and do the service there, we would pay them whatever we can and at least we could cut the cost down because they will be using our facilities," said the Minister.
President of the Medical Professionals Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MPATT) Dr Shehanaz Mohammed said the long-term solution was to employ more neurosurgeons, but a short-term measure needed to be put in place "to deal with the problem now".
She suggested that because Port of Spain General Hospital was deemed as the nation's neurosurgical centre, it should be fully equipped with properly-working equipment, with easy access to the hospital for emergency vehicles.
She said the department needed to be expanded physically and adequately staffed.