“It’s not an easy task but we’re very committed to treating with operationalising the cath lab.”
THA Health Secretary Tracy Davidson-Celestine made this admission in answer to a question about the status of the catheterisation laboratory at the Scarborough General Hospital.
She spoke during Tuesday’s virtual Division of Health media briefing.
The question was asked in the wake of a recent newspaper report that the $70 million cardiac lab for heart patients in Tobago has not been in use for five years.
Davidson-Celestine said: “The cath lab is not in operation currently and we’re working very hard to ensure that we can utilise that particular unit. Of course, it’s not very cheap, based on the information that would have come to me.”
In responding to the report a week ago, Tobago Business Chamber chairman Martin George called for all regional health authorities to be under one umbrella managed by the Ministry of Health, saying patients who need heart procedures are sent to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Trinidad for treatment.
Describing a "culture of squandermania" in the Tobago Regional Health Authority, George said the "recent revelations of the massive wastage of taxpayers’ dollars" were no surprise.
"We have repeatedly called upon the Government to have a look at the entire regional health authority structure," he said. "It is a failed model. It does not produce results. You have massive inconsistencies within the various health authorities."
Minority councillor Dr Faith BYisrael weighed in as well, condemning the "continued mismanagement" of the island's health care system. In a video shared on WhatsApp, BYisrael said the TRHA must come clean about the status of the lab and why it is not being used.
She added, "This is sad, sickening, disturbing and disappointing. We currently have a situation where we are sending people to Trinidad to procure services where we have spent the money and they could have done it in Tobago. We could have people coming from Trinidad to Tobago to get the best cath lab services. We continue to waste, mismanage and be inefficient in our health care system."