Although the Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) is not as mired in controversy as it was at this time last year, the signs of an ailing management continue.
For instance, air conditioning units which were in dire need of repair were only restored after months of having to leave doors open so the place would stay cool and a pensioner fell over a balcony at the back of the ward.
Sadly, we have become accustomed to horror stories emanating from the hospital because of what can only be perceived as poor management from the head.
Concerns about whether the heads are qualified or suitable for their jobs have always part of the problem.
Up to last year, qualifications of senior officials were being questioned to the point where the then Chief Medical Officer (CEO) publicly declared he was competent for the job.
His predecessor lasted only six months, seemingly hounded out of office over differences of opinion with the board of directors.
All of these controversies swirled, seemingly protected from scrutiny, under the former Secretary of Health who stirred only to say that the queries were out of her jurisdiction. All operational questions were directed to the board and rightly so.
However, the last board of directors, whom she assisted in appointing, were also part of a wider state of affairs embroiled in curious actions of its own.
Theirs was an era marked by marches for salary and back pay and over an alleged contract for cafeteria services involving bread.
In May last year, its signature action involved defiantly continuing the suspension of three doctors although the court ordered the doctors back to work. Then the Health Secretary stirred, ordering the reinstatement of the professionals, but only after the Public Services Association threatened contempt of court proceedings against the TRHA.
Notwithstanding the wheeling and dealing of the TRHA officials over the years, their actions would only be gossip fodder if it did not trickle down to the care of patients.
We continue to grieve with the families of Rose Gordon (Charlotteville) and Leciana Mitchell-Sheppard (Belle Garden) and now Glenroy George (Moriah). Thankfully, George is still with us though in a fragile state.
While we acknowledge death and near death experiences at the hospital are inevitable, we note with despair that these cases involved avoidable circumstances.
Additionally, the handling of the information surrounding the cases left a bitter taste in the public’s mouths as attempts were made to suppress it. In the many cases, circumstances surrounding the TRHA’s actions were only brought to the fore when the matters were pursued in court.
Thankfully, the current Health Secretary’s actions have engendered a sense of hope, although at times she uses a pickaxe to break eggs.
We really hope our trust is not misplaced.