Minister of Culture Rene Baptiste. (File Photo)

ST. VINCENT: – Minister of Culture Rene Baptiste has defended the government’s decision to place a Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) scan machine at a facility owned by her sister, Dr. Rosalind Ambrose.

The National Insurance Services (NIS) and the National Commercial Bank (NCB) have paid EC$1.4 million (US$0.51 million) for the machine.

It will be located at Caribbean Medical Imaging Centre (CMIC) at Stoney Grounds.

The Vincentian newspaper columnist and lawyer, Dr. Kenneth John, in his article in of Sept. 10, criticised the Dr. Ralph Gonsalves administration for partnering with people who are closely connected to the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP).

“These arrangements need to be gone through with a fine-teeth comb before their award,” John said. (Go to the homepage to subscribe to I Witness-News)

“I’ll tell him why Dr. Ambrose: Because she is a consultant radiologist,” Baptiste said at a ULP rally in Ottley Hall on Thursday, Sept. 23.

“She is a clinical professor of radiology. She is recognized by the Royal College of Radiologist. She has published work in professional journals,” Baptiste said of her sister.

“The Vincentian newspaper and the News newspaper [are] not … professional journal[s], [they] don’t count — that is once a week. Yo’ done read it. Yo’ wrap up some salt fish or pigtail in it, or clean yo’ car tyre. So that is the person who is going to be reading the CT scan,” Baptiste further said.

The parliamentary representative for West Kingstown, where the rally was being held, said radiologist would not come to SVG to read CAT scan results, as John suggested.

She further said that in 1997, Ambrose and her family invested in CAT scan machine, which has since exhausted its lifespan.

She said the investment was made even as then New Democratic Party (NDP) Minister of Health, Yvonne Francis Gibson, said there was no need for “Chicago Hope medicine” in the country, a reference to a popular television drama back then.

Dr. Rosalind Ambrose (R) and Dr. Kenneth John. (File photos)

“It was Dr. Ambrose, a citizen of this country, who put her house — she mortgaged her house. Which one ah you go mortgage yo’ house to buy CT machine? … And the rest of us in the family joined with her. Now the government is doing it through state agencies,” Baptiste said.

“We have all the bills and we know whose name was on the bill, for the benefit of Daniel Cummings and some woman called Leacock,” she added. (Follow I Witness-News on Facebook)

Cummings is the New Democratic Party’s candidate for West Kingstown in general elections due by next March.

Baptiste, who has represented West Kingstown Since 2001, will not contest the elections and endorsed fellow lawyer Michelle Fife as the ULP’s candidate for the constituency.

“She (Ambrose) is a citizen, she had done her part. So now the government is doing their part, how yo’ going say she was awarded it. She brought one herself — she and her family — as a contribution. What is Kenneth John’s contribution? Writing a weekly column in a newspaper,” Baptiste said.

Prime Minister Dr. Gonsalves told Parliament earlier this month that the machine will be housed at CMIC because there is no space at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital for the equipment.

The New Democratic Party administration had ignored suggestions by Ambrose to make provision for the equipment when the hospital was being remodelled in 1993, he said.

“… [I]t was felt easier since al the connections were there already – all the electrical connections and everything involved to put this machine there [at the CMIC] and to work out with her a memorandum, an agreement in terms of the use of this facility …” Gonsalves had said then.