Shankar Teelucksingh

While the conversion of the Point Fortin Hospital was necessary to accommodate the COVID-19 spike, more should be done to facilitate non-COVID patients who have to journey miles away from the peninsula to access health care.

So said Cedros councillor Shankar Teelucksingh as he called on the Government to utilise medics from the T&T Defence Force, hire private medical personnel as well as utilise retired doctors and nurses to boost the existing strained workforce.

In an interview, Teelucksingh also recommended that the government begin reopening existing medical facilities located at Petrotrin’s base in Point Fortin, the Trinmar medical facility as well as those in Santa Flora and Penal/Barrackpore which are currently abandoned to treat non-COVID patients requiring care for comorbidities.

“The Trinmar medical facility would have at least three beds, ECG machines, blood testing, pressure testing. Petrotrin Point Fortin had X-ray machines, labs, a dispensary and also two beds. All of this is currently abandoned. There was also a full complement of medical personnel, most of whom are in private practice who could be rehired to work at these facilities,” Teelucksingh said.

He noted that trained medics and nurses are employed with the T&T Defence Force could be utilized at this time.

“Why are we having these trained medics doing nothing when we need as many hands-on board as possible,” Teelucksingh said. As COVID numbers rise, Teelucksingh said additional space has to be provided for step-down facilities.

“We need to look at all our resources and find additional hospital space. The new Chatham Government school could be transformed into a step-down facility while all the health centres in the peninsula should be open 24/7 by bringing on board retired medical personnel who could deal with non-COVID patients. There are other schools and buildings owned by the State which could be used,” Teelucksingh said.

He added that while T&T was fighting a war against COVID and it was wise to also provide health care to those with other ailments.

Meanwhile, former medical director of the San Fernando General Hospital Dr Anand Chatoorgoon, who has 30 years of experience working in Intensive Care Unit, said he was willing to help.

However, he said although he pleaded to assist with the COVID crisis, his calls have gone unanswered.

“I have made repeated requests to permanent secretary Asif Ali, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Roshan Parasram and the Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh to assist with the pandemic.”

—Radhica De Silva