THE state of the Point Fortin Extended Care Centre is a disgrace, a regrettable blot on the public health system.
The centre, which houses psychiatric patients and the socially displaced, fell into such poor condition that its outpatient clinic was moved to a prefabricated container on the grounds, abandoning a building that had become uninhabitable.
It's a particular embarrassment for the authority, given the impressive new hospital building that graces Point Fortin, declared open in March to serve the community.
The new building was assigned to the parallel health system by May.
Since the establishment of the new hospital, the South-West Regional Health Authority's (SWRHA) management of this resource has been admirably proactive, responding eloquently to concerns about the repurposing of the new hospital, planning alternatives to outpatient care when crowds required cancellation, and executing an admirable vaccination regime.
The SWRHA chose not to comment on the situation at the care centre, and that's understandable.
It's a situation that would leave most at a loss for words. What's to be said about a health facility with a snake and rodent infestation?
Point Fortin MP Kennedy Richards Jr also offered no answers for a situation that has clearly been deteriorating for years without any effort at correcting its obvious collapse.
That pervasive official silence is no help at all for the former clients of the centre, who are either unlikely or unable to speak for themselves in this matter.
The SWRHA made it clear since March that the centre would not be moved to the new hospital, claiming that the patients are "difficult to manage."
But by May, it would have been obvious that an alternative to the untenable situation at the care centre had to be found, either through relocation to another building or through a commitment to fast and effective repair of the compromised structure.
Instead, staff and outpatients were consigned to a repurposed container surrounded by tall grass and covered in mould that in no way resembled a medical facility.
Mr Richards called for a community response to the situation, encouraging a gayap-style response, but construction activity is only just getting started.
There is, unfortunately, sometimes a conflict between political agendas and the Hippocratic principles of the medical profession. The public health sector is its middle ground, funded and equipped to provide medical care to the largest number of citizens.
In this case, a tiny constituency of the helpless, the “mentally ill and indigent” are dramatically underserved at a facility created to help them.
If the pandemic has taught TT anything, it is that the public health sector is at its best when it is mobilised to help all citizens.