Statement by the St. Lucia Medical and Dental Association (SLMDA) on the St. Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project and the OKEU Hospital
The St. Lucia Medical and Dental Association is disturbed about the current “State of Emergency” regarding healthcare and our nation’s healthcare institutions, particularly Victoria and St. Jude Hospitals.
This is a matter of grave concern as it is the place where we are expected to deliver adequate and quality health care to the public. The mix of recent comments by public officials amidst the widespread public debate and ensuing confusion is extremely troubling to say the least. To date, a definitive decision has not been presented on an issue of such critical and national importance.
The existing hospitals are in a most deplorable and unacceptable state of operation, with medical and non-medical staff understandably demotivated and morale at an all-time low. Notwithstanding, our responsibility still remains the delivery of quality health care to the public. Priority must now be given to public safety and the welfare of healthcare providers, as we can no longer tolerate this unsustainable situation.
The current conditions make it almost impossible to deliver the quality of healthcare the public deserves and is entitled to. As a trade union and a professional organization, SLMDA has a duty to guarantee compliance with occupational health and safety standards at the workplace for its members and the public alike.
At present, all the citizens of this country have, after eight years of construction and three administrations, is a St. Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project in the south, now in a one year pause mode, at 50% completion, with a supposed cost of $118 million and a completed but not yet accessible OKEU Hospital in the north.
The public continues to wait for a modicum of decent health care with increasing anxiety, while diminishing confidence and distrust in the present health care system remains deeply rooted. Equally, civil society has now got an awakening of sorts to recognize that we must take responsibility in some measure for where we are today.
The SLMDA calls on the Government of St. Lucia to act decisively and responsibly to resolve this crisis by implementing the transition of services from Victoria Hospital to the OKEU Hospital soonest and completing the St. Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project in a time and cost specific manner. This has to be a national priority, of necessity.
That said, the Government is also responsible and accountable to the people of St. Lucia to give a transparent and unbiased explanation as to what went wrong with these important health care facilities which have now become symbols of national embarrassment.
The Association is willing to lend its expertise as part of a multidisciplinary team to assist the Government of St. Lucia in solving this urgent national healthcare crisis. Healthcare is now a matter of national conscience and is profoundly personal to every St. Lucian. Hence our commitment to raising awareness on these issues by advocating for collective solutions to enhance the delivery of adequate, affordable, accessible and quality healthcare services to all citizens.