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Truckers remove items from the Richmond Gabriel University campus in Belair on May 10, 2024.
Truckers remove items from the Richmond Gabriel University campus in Belair on May 10, 2024.
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Employees of Richmond Gabriel University (RGU), St. Vincent and the Grenadines are unsure about their employment status as the medical school appears to have packed up and moved out of the country, allegedly leaving at least one unrefrigerated human body behind. 

Multiple university employees have contacted iWitness News over the past weeks since the university began moving the contents of its Belair campus to the campus at Arnos Vale, even after saying it was closing the Arnos Vale site for renovation. 

The workers told iWitness News they fear they could lose any benefits for their years of service to the university, even as their pay packages are arriving further and further from the 25th of the month when they are usually paid.

“It’s a bad situation. They have outstanding income taxes,” a source told iWitness News on condition of anonymity.  

“VINLEC has disconnected them, [a telecommunication provider] was in touch with them before VINLEC took the action. They may have outstanding monies for National Properties on campus,” the source further said, referring to the state company the former Teachers’ College facility where the Arnos Vale campus is located.

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The privately owned university is the successor to All Saints University, College of Medicine, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which began operation in 2011 but changed to RGU in 2022, reflecting a change in management and ownership.

The source said that the university’s president, Dr. Mane Paulpillai and a new member of the university’s board held three meetings — one each with the non-teaching staff, the faculty and the students — earlier this year.

This was following a meeting in August during which the officials said they would have returned at the end of September but did not do so. 

The university officials told the meetings earlier this year that they were opening an RGU campus in Curacao.

Sometime later, RGU said that it was closing down the Arnos Vale campus for renovation. 

Students were told that three of the four pre-med levels would be taught online while the upper pre-med courses and the medical doctor course were to move to the Belair campus. 

However, one day, the staff was surprised when the president of the university and the dean of student affairs brought trucks and started to pack the stuff up at the Belair campus and took them down to Arnos Vale. 

“… everything was packed up,” the source said, mentioning the laboratory, library and classroom furniture.

The only thing that was left at the campus was the “wet lab”, where the university keeps cadavers – human bodies used in teaching its courses. 

Then, the faculty and staff were told that they would transition to online classes for the entire programme.

Therefore, the new semester began on May 13 with all classes being held online. 

iWitness News was reliably informed that the university staff later learnt that RGU has acquired a property in Curacao for a campus. 

“And all we know is that they were busy with a broker getting themselves prepared and they said everything was going to be shipped to Curacao,” the source said. 

iWitness News understands that there are about 50 students enrolled in RGU’s pre-med to MD programme.

“That’s how the numbers have declined since they took over in 2019,” the source told iWitness News, adding that about 100 students are doing clinical rotation, mostly in the United States. 

iWitness News understands that VINLEC, the state-owned and sole commercial electricity supplier in SVG disconnected the Belair campus on May 22 and the Arnos Vale campus on May 31.

“We know VINLEC only disconnects when you are in arrears for quite a few months,” the source said. 

“So we have no power. There’s no internet. There’s no Wi-Fi.”

iWitness News understands that security guards at the Arnos Vale Campus are using candles to make their way around at night. 

The source said that some employees of the university work remotely. However, the Labour Department has advised ancillary workers such as cleaners, groundskeepers and library staff to continue to report to duty or the university might claim that they have abandoned their jobs.

Workers have been receiving their pay, but it is arriving in their accounts further and further away from the 25th of the month, the date on which they are usually paid, the source said. 

For instance, wages and salaries for May reached workers’ accounts on Monday and Tuesday, June 3 and 4.

Meanwhile, multiple sources have expressed concern about the possibility that at least one cadaver is at the Belair campus without any refrigeration.

One source said that after the power was disconnected, the state authorities asked that this matter be addressed, noting that without cooling, the body would begin to smell. 

Another source said that a funeral home has refused to provide services related to the body until it knows how it was going to be paid for those services. 

The funeral home is said to have visited the campus and treated the body with a solution.

“But I think whatever solution they use, they (the bodies) wouldn’t start to smell so soon,” a source said. 

“The funeral home turned up. But I think the funeral home expects to be paid before they take any action.” 

3 replies on “Medical school packs up, allegedly leaving dead body behind”

  1. nancysauldemers says:

    Wow, that’s horrific. But not as horrific as the fact that you actually wrote, “the officials said they would have returned at the end of September but did not do so.”

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