Improving health care in Grand Bahama’s was one of the points highlighted by Member of Parliament for Pineridge, Rev. Frederick McAlpine, during his contribution to the 2017/2018 Budget Debate.
“It has been said that the health of the nation is the wealth of the nation. If we encourage our people to be healthy they will become productive citizens striving towards achievable wealth.
Grand Bahama has long outgrown the Rand Memorial Hospital by virtue of population; not just now but for some time,” McAlpine said.
He noted that the population of Grand Bahama is too great to have, what he termed, “such an inadequate facility.
“I often wonder if there were some major emergency on the island, industrial or aviation, are we – that is the health care of Grand Bahama – able to maintain the proper service.
“Do we have the proper amenities and medical technological advancement to assist and assess people?” questioned the Pineridge, MP.
“I guess the answer to the rhetorical question is emphatically, no!
“It is a sad state that the nation’s second city, with the second largest population in the country, cannot find enough beds in the hospital to accommodate its residents.
“It is an outrage and atrocity that residents will come to the Accident and Emergency to lie in beds, chairs and gurneys, sometimes up to two-to-three days, because there are no available beds on the wards, during their time of illness.”
McAlpine said, this is unacceptable for an island that has the second largest population in this archipelago.
“Another thing that perturbs me, but before I go there, let me also speak to the inadequacies at the Hawksbill Clinic that’s often used for physiotherapy.
“None of us in this honorable place would like to know that that is the environment or condition that our family members are being treated in.”
He noted that such a facility appears to be antiquated, antedated and demands the attention Minister of Health (Dr. Duane Sands), despite our predecessors making physical cosmetic improvements.
McAlpine added that the facility is too small for such a large population to carry out such functions.
“I speak to these facilities because both are located in the Pineridge constituency; both the Rand Memorial Hospital and the Hawksbill Clinic.”
Speaking to the reports on the working conditions of Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel, McAlpine claimed that he received several reports from constituents, who happen to be ambulance drivers.
“I’m shocked to find out that these ambulance attendants who risk their lives daily by picking up persons who are ill, or even finding themselves on the scenes of gruesome accidents, are not insured, McAlpine alleged.
“I often wonder about their psychological welfare after seeing and being around so much blood. Might I also add, they become susceptible to contagious illnesses and diseases unknowingly.
“It was disappointing to find out that such persons put their lives at risk and the lives of others, by driving speedily to get patients to the Accident and Emergency.
“However, what if they were to get in an accident on the way? God forbid! I’ve been informed that these ambulance attendants are not insured; thereby putting themselves at risk and our society also,” he claimed.
“These persons in the health care profession, being uninsured, only put the government in jeopardy for major lawsuits and litigations against the state, causing millions of dollars.
“Ambulance drivers in their vulnerability ought to be insured. The $200 per month stipend that is given towards their insurance or to assist them in getting insurance is unacceptable! We all know they can’t get a proper insurance with such money,” he maintained.
McAlpine suggested that the $200 should go towards psychiatric care and evaluation after seeing such gruesome scenes and circumstances on a daily, monthly and yearly basis.
“The Public Health Authority in Grand Bahama, its professionals, agents and patients require the immediate attention of this government.
“Again, the population is too big to have such insufficiencies in the health care system for the nation’s second city.”
With Grand Bahama often being refered to as the industrial capital in The Bahamas, McAlpine said, “I’m not sure that there is legislation in place that speaks to the health and safety of our people working in such environments.
“Far too many of our people have been injured in the industry, to which sometimes the injuries are life lasting and they are not compensated as such.
“Therefore, it is easy for such large companies to take advantage of our people if governments, after all these years, have not protected them by way of legislation.”
Freeport is the industrial capital of The Bahamas yet despite this the health and safety of industrial workers in Freeport remains in jeopardy, McAlpine maintained.
“Likewise protecting the environment has been a self-regulating exercise generally for the industries. No one has really been looking out for the interest of the employees in the industrial sector.
“The GBPA (Grand Bahama Port Authority) has established an environmental department, but like the Best Commission and throughout the rest of The Bahamas, it does not have any statutory power to regulate, enforce or penalize for damage.
“It’s really is a toothless tiger to say the least! There is more that I can say but I will save it for a later date.
“It’s the people’s time and we ought to look out for the people in the industrial workplace in Grand Bahama,” McAlpine said.