Some members of the newly appointed Board of the Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) “are repeat members who failed miserably when they were on the board before” and as such the health sector in Tobago is unlikely to show any improvement during their current term.
So contended Minority Councillor Dr Faith B Yisrael, who said she was disappointed with the appointments.
Last Thursday, nine members were appointed to serve on the new TRHA, including Ingrid Melville as chairman. Melville was the deputy chairman of the previous board during its two-year term, at which time she also performed the duties of the Chief Executive Officer.
In an interview last Friday, BYisrael said:
“The selections of individuals show the THA (Tobago House of Assembly) doesn’t understand what it takes to provide Tobago with the level care that is required, and particularly the level of health tourism that we think will be an ideal component to boot our economic independence from Trinidad.”
“Many of the members are repeat members who failed miserably when they were on the board before. They didn’t show any improvement and there were critical issues associated with their performance with the first go around, and it is very disappointing to see that they would choose those individuals again knowing that we need a complete turn- around, knowing that there are critical issues to be deal with in our health system and I’m talking about the provision of basic health.”
BYisrael said she doesn’t have any confidence in nor expects to see any improvement or change in the health care system soon.
“What the last board has been doing by not going through the selection process and appointing a CEO and now the deputy chairman of the last board is now the chairman of this board, who almost appoint herself to act as a CEO in addition to being a member of the board, shows there was no understanding of the rules and regulations that govern the TRHA. We don’t expect any improvement in the health care for Tobago.”
“As part of the team who worked with the former Health and Social Services when we commissioned the new Scarborough General Hospital six years ago, all these plans to generate income … The Ministry of Health tried to identify the cost that is associated with health service so that we can start charging, I’m not sure if that assessment for Trinidad is complete and I’m certain it is not complete for Tobago,” she added.
B Yisrael recommended that the THA begin staff restructuring for the TRHA in accordance with the Ministry of Health and the THA legislation, and begin identifying the critical health needs of Tobago and create a plan to offer these services.
“There are other simple issues we have with … issues with maintenance of very basic equipment. I remember discussions before the commissioning that there would have been concrete plans to maintain all of the equipment that are currently at the hospital like the MRI machine. The fact that those machines continue to breakdown where we do not have access to those critical services, means a preventative maintenance plan was never implemented.
“If this is the case with the hospital for that last five years with some of these same individuals being in the same key position over the years, then we have no faith and confidence that this new board will bring any new change.”
“There are no lab services to provide the necessary testing, there are doctors but no pharmacist at the hospital…”
BYisrael said strategies must be implemented to decrease the number of preventable deaths, including maternal and prenatal deaths.
“We seem to be having high infant and maternal mortality rates and those are indicators of failed or failing health care systems, and given the amount of money we continue to spend on health care, this should not be the case,” she said.