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Minister of Health, Sen. Luke Browne. (IWN file photo)
Minister of Health, Sen. Luke Browne. (IWN file photo)
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Minister of Health Sen. Luke Browne has explained why one of his nephews was taken overseas for medical attention, saying this was not a commentary on the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH).

The child, the son of Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar had been at the MCMH for days before his parents decided to take him to Barbados for specialist attention, Browne said.

Browne made the disclosure on Boom FM on Monday while he defended the services provided at the MCMH – the nation’s main healthcare facility — amidst increased focus on the facility after the July 28 death there of social and political activist Oscar Allen.

Allen, 75, died seven days after undergoing urgent surgery to his large intestines. The surgical intervention had been twice postponed after two of the three anaesthesiologists at MCMH had fallen ill.

In a July 14 letter to administrator of MCMH, Grace Walters, and copied to other officials, including the Health Minister, Allen said that the delay in the surgery could have “fatal consequences”.

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The activist had said that while a section of the population of St. Vincent and the Grenadines “does not trust the services offered at the MCMH. I however do.”

Browne said that Allen had expressed trust in the hospital and that is “not a part of his letter that should be hidden under a bushel”.

The health minister further said that he has close relatives who go to the hospital for medical attention.

He said that in the case of his nephew, he has a little liberty to talk about that case because he had discussed it with his sister and got permission.

“You’re behaving as if the child fall sick today and tonight he rush out of St. Vincent. He was at the hospital for several days in St. Vincent and the Grenadines even before his parents even ventured to think to take him abroad. For several days here and because of a worsening of his condition, because he developed some cardiac complications and we don’t have a cardiologist in St. Vincent, then a decision was taken to take him abroad,” Browne said.

“That is responsible parenting. In the first place, they had trust in our system here. He was here for a long time. He developed some complications and, as I said at the outset, is it sometimes necessary for us to seek medical attention abroad. And it is not as if only one set of people could get medical attention abroad. And it is not as if the government paid anything at all for his pursuit of medical attention overseas. We have confidence in the health system.

“We know that it is not perfect, while we know that some matters might need to be referred, there is a general confidence in the system and that is a confidence that Oscar Allen himself expressed in the letter.”

It was further pointed out that Daniela Daniel, the 27-year-old daughter of Housing Minister, Montgomery Daniel, died in Trinidad on July 18, sometime after she was hospitalised at MCMH.

Browne said that as far as he knows, Daniel’s death was not linked to the MCMH.

“That’s not what we found and I wouldn’t comment on that too much. I mean, I can talk about my nephew’s case because I have clearance on that, but, I mean we have to really avoid getting into the specifics of instances,” he said.

He however said that the minister’s daughter did not die because of a situation that developed at the hospital.

“I have had reports and on the basis of those reports, I am making my comments to you here. But, in terms of elaboration, it would not be appropriate for us to elaborate on them…

“What I would say, as well, in relation to that case — and I really want us to leave it there because we have to have some respect for the families — is that there were very long weather-based delays that prevented Mr. Daniel’s daughter from being able to leave St. Vincent and the Grenadines before the time she actually did.”

Daniel was taken to Trinidad for medical attention but died there.

14 replies on “Health Minister explains why his nephew went overseas for medical attention”

  1. No cardiologist with so much heart disease in the land and no resident psychiatrist with so many mentally ill people in the country tells me that we do indeed have a primitive health care system.

    1. Jannette Burke says:

      For those who live abroad, we seem to thing SVG is a developed country, no, and furthermore, such things happen in developed countries – people die in the Emergency Dept. whilst awaiting a Specialist or a bed.

      1. Yes it just happens far more often in SVG. I am more frightened of the Health Care system in SVG than I am of the corruption, lawlessness and the high crime rate.

  2. I agreed with Minister Brown that “It is responsible parenting” in doing what ever is within their possibility to take their kid overseas for medical help unfortunately, even with responsible parents, it is interesting to know what opportunity is there for the less privileged kids, those parents with less access to funds?

    1. Taking a flight on Liat with little notice Is extremely expensive, even if the parent is wealthy. We now see how all the problems of Saint Vincent compound where only the wealthy can have good service. The ULP makes sure that certain rich even pay less taxes. Sad for the rest of us.

  3. Daniela delay was first the doctors hand over report and when the report was finally ready a day or two then there was an issue with the weather I don’t like when things are sugar coated the family had to beg for a meeting with the the head of the team to ask what are their options because no one was really saying anything to them.You can’t say give the family respect when she was there days before and after the delivery and conditions went undiagnosed and to make matters worse she was seeing a doctor every two weeks ,we are still waiting for some explanation from her she has a conscience she did complain about her treatment there so stop sugar coating when that doctor looses her license then you can talk and stop covering up that place is a hell hole.

  4. I don’t blame them at all for seeking care elsewhere. That in and of itself is no indictment of the healthcare system. Hell, even here in Canada, we had politicians on both the right and the left of the spectrum have gone to the US for medical treatment. This isn’t an issue to run Luke down with. Let it be. As he said, it’s just good parenting.

    1. Annette Doyle says:

      This is incompetence from the top down it begins with the Prime Minister. With a population of 100,000 people, not one Cardiologist to service the country? What other Specialists are we lacking? What happened to all the young Vincentian doctors the country sends abroad to train? It is definitely an indictment on the Minister of Health and the whole healthcare system in St Vincent and the Grenadines, that these services are not available locally. Vincentian Citizens should rise up and demand better for themselves,they need to stop being complacent. Demand more of your government. Why don’t the doctors in SVG tell patients their diagnosis before it is too late? Is it that they don’t know themselves? The whole system needs to be revamped. One simple fix, hire retired Specialist from abroad.

    2. It is not the parent’s fault that they cannot afford to fly the children overseas. The problem is that the ULP does not see Health Care as being important. The PM recently admitted this!

  5. I hope that the Minister of Health is seriously thinking of broadening the scope and breath of careers in the hospitals. From where I am, I could assume that the skills and abilities of team members in the hospital (s) need to include many more careers in the healthcare fields. What seems to be stagnant and unchanging is the promotion and appeals to only, certain specialist doctors, nurses, pharmacists, not many lab workers and para-professionals in specific job areas and maybe some para-professional in the technical and computing fields. Incidentally, there are literally at least one hundred or more occupations that could be used in the technical, para-professional and service fields in the hospital to improve services, caring and mortality.

    The same occupations that are presented by the present healthcare systems seem to be largely to be the ones that existed at least fifty or more years ago. Since then, technology have significant improved methods of safety, security, better health care delivery and services to hospital clients. There needs to be significant improvement in the delivery of care by seeking, selecting and providing training in the delivery of such services. For e.g., nurses can be trained as anesthesiologists, paramedics could used significant to deliver the first steps of basic care to patients on route to the hospitals.

    Nutritional therapy and education is significant has to become the change factor in remedying cases such as cardiac conditions, kidney failures, (high blood pressure) hypertension, diabetes and chronic cholesterol issues. Re-educating people on proper nutritional care and educating them how to maintain a healthy life style, how to consume nutritionally sound diets and controlling the portions of foods eaten can significantly improve mortality. People need to understand that what they put on their plates and into their mouths will eventually kill them. You are what you eat. You need to learn what and how much to eat. I think that it is time for the health care system to start thinking outside of the box and to explore the possibilities of delivering better healthcare services.

  6. Why not open an investigation to determine if something went wrong and how to improve it. Right now, only folks with money or government links can go abroad for medical treatment. I believe Oscar would be alive today if he had gone abroad for treatment. Luke should not use Oscar’s statement as an excuse not to improve the medical fiasco that’s plaguing SVG.

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