Health Secretary: THA owes $200,000 for 'rainbow rooms'

THA Secretary of Health, Wellness and Social Protection Dr Faith BYisrael. Photo courtesy THA
THA Secretary of Health, Wellness and Social Protection Dr Faith BYisrael. Photo courtesy THA

Secretary of Health, Wellness and Social Protection Dr Faith BYisrael has alleged that the former PNM-led THA administration owes an organisation about $200,000 for services provided for what she called Tobago’s “rainbow rooms.”

She was referring to the Pink Room, a women’s health clinic on the Windward Road, Louis D’Or, and the Blue Room for men at Fort King George, Scarborough.

They were opened in May and November 2019 respectively.

In her contribution to the THA budget debate on Tuesday in the Assembly Legislature, Scarborough, BYisrael said she has had to grapple with “so much debt” at the division since becoming secretary in December 2021.

As a result, she said she is often afraid to go into meetings.

BYisrael said in March, the division began receiving bills from an organisation in Trinidad saying it is owed payments of $18,000 for January, and a further $18,000-$20,000 for February and March.

BYisrael said she called a meeting with the organisation because she felt the sums were not considerable and a payment plan could be worked out.

But she realised bills from the organisation had never been paid since the projects started in 2017-2018.

“We have not paid a single bill from since then. So I walked into a meeting thinking how we could figure out how we paying $20,000, $40,000, probably $60,000 – only to be told that is about $200,000 that we have to pay, because you have never paid a bill.”

BYisrael, a public health practitioner, also accused the former THA of “abusing” officers at the division.

Saying the division needed to be built from the ground up, BYisrael revealed that many officers, some of whom she had worked with at the division years ago, did not know where the secretary’s office was.

“I said something that I felt was simple, ‘Come and see me in my office.’ And it is at that point, many of them came up and say wait, ‘Is so up here look?’

“They let me know that they have never been allowed up there before. They let me know that they were not allowed to ride the elevator with them.”

She added, “So when I say, Madam Presiding Officer (Abby Taylor), that we are in the position of building an organisation, I don’t just mean building the actual structures, as in the positions. That is not what we are talking about.

“We are actually doing mental-health-building of the officers who have been there and who have been abused and who have been misused and who have been afraid to say things because of the level cuss that some of them were getting.”

As a result, BYisrael said in the next fiscal year the division will establish a department of health to do an overview of the Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA).

“What we have been doing over the years is just saying to the TRHA, 'We are giving you this money to do whatever.' But we have never really been in a position where we have people at the division to say, ‘This is the data that we have collected about health, and because we have collected this data, this is a policy we can now build, because we have now built this policy, this is the annual services agreement that we are now going to give to you. And now that we have given you the annual services agreement and we are giving you the money, we can they say at the back end that we are now monitoring and evaluating what you do to see if the money that you are spending has met the requirements.’”

She said the THA has never had the kind of structure to do that.


"Health Secretary: THA owes $200,000 for ‘rainbow rooms’"

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