Cedros villagers concerned about how 24/7 health centre will function

Finance Minister Colm Imbert in his budget speech announced that the Cedros Health Centre will now be one of three health facilities to remain open 24/7.

However, villagers say there is no place to house medical staff who will work 12 hours shifts.

Last January, the nursing quarters built two years ago to house medical staff overnight, burnt to the ground and it was never rebuilt. 

The government later shut down the 24/7 operation at the centre which resulted in many medical emergencies being left unattended.

In an interview Monday, councilor for Cedros Shankar Teelucksingh said people have died over the past few months because they failed to reach the Point Fortin Area Hospital in time to get treatment.

"A man died from a heart attack before he could reach the hospital. Babies have been born in cars and many Venezuelans who come to our shores sick could not get any medical assistance because the health centre was closed after hours," Teelucksingh said.

Saying he welcomed the reopening of the Cedros Health centre around the clock, Teelucksingh said the government must now allocate money to rebuild the Nurses quarters which was destroyed by fire.

"Villagers cried when they saw the nursing quarters on fire because they knew they would suffer. Now that the health centre will be open 24/7, we want to know, will there be a doctor staying at the centre? If so, where will the doctor and nursing staff be housed? Will the ambulance and paramedics be reinstated? The government had shut down the ambulance service after the fire and this brought tremendous hardship to people in Icacos, Cedros and environs," Teelucksingh said.

He recommended immediate refurbishment of the nursing quarters so that fatalities could be prevented.

He also said the health centre should be outfitted with medical kits to test Venezuelans and other foreigners who show up at the Cedros port. 

During his budget presentation, Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced that three rural health centres in Grand Riviere, Blanchissuese and Cedros will remain open on a 24/7 basis.

- by Radhica De Silva

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