Trinidad and Tobago: Idi Stuart is concerned for the health of medical staff and patients amid the recent major infrastructural works beginning at the San Fernando General Hospital at Paradise Pasture of Independence Ave in San Fernando, a city in the southernmost part of Trinidad.
Idi Stuart is the president of the National Nursing Association in Trinidad and Tobago, whose concern is about the uncomfortable conditions and asbestos exposure, which can cause cancer, for the medical staff and patients in the hospital due to construction.
Idi Stuart mentioned in an interview that the association is receiving lots of complaints about the problems faced by its members.
The refurbishment works in the San Fernando General Hospital were announced by the Health Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Terrence Deyalsingh. The announcement was made on the occasion of his visit to the hospital last year on Boxing Day.
With the San Fernando General Hospital, the major refurbishment works of the Port of Spain General Hospital and the Eric Williams Medical Science Complex were also announced.
As promised by the health minister, the much-needed work of construction started in the San Fernando General Hospital. The work is taken under control by the South-West Regional Health Authority, which is also known as SWRHA.
Idi Stuart said that there was no notification provided by the South-West Regional Health Authority before starting the construction work, which created the issue.
Stuart, in his statement, said, “This is really unfortunate because when you watch the scope of the works they are dealing with. They are dealing with the roof of the older wing.”
Stuart mentioned, “There are reports, and they have confirmed those reports, that it contains asbestos. And because the older wing of San Fernando General Hospital is not sealed like some of the newer hospitals, it is open to the crosswinds.”
He added, “The winds blow from east to west, so whatever work is being done can enter the wards, affecting both medical staff and patients in the hospital.”
As per his observation, 95 per cent of the wards are exposed to asbestos. This can cause cancer to everyone who is exposed to the environment. It can be more uncomfortable as the wards are not air-conditioned.
Stuart mentioned that “Before the beginning of construction, information must be provided, and all the staff and patients should have been relocated to the Couva Hospital or the Point Fortin Hospital.”
Stuart said, “We need to begin to look at if there are any legal issues here that we need to take to the National OSH Agency and to see if our members have been placed at risk. We really don’t want to because we really don’t want to stop the works being conducted because it is really an antiquated building.”
Now, as the work has already started, it needs to be seen what steps are taken by the authorities for the betterment of the medical staff and patients admitted to the hospital.
People are also sharing their opinions in favour of Idi Stuart, whose concern is valid, as playing with the lives of people in the hospital is not fine after knowing the possible conditions.