March 6, 2009
Officials upgrade security at MCMH

A new security firm has been instated at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, and Hospital Administrator Fitzroy Jones says that this is part of the upgraded security that is being implemented at the institution.{{more}}

Premium Security has replaced Professional Security Services Limited as the hospital’s security providers.

A recent memo sent to hospital staff by the administrator also indicates some new measures that have been put in place.

“All persons and property entering the premises of the MCMH (Milton Cato Memorial Hospital) are subject to be scanned with a metal detector. When metals are detected, the owner will be asked to disclose,” Jones told SEARCHLIGHT, the memo states.

Eyes were focused on the hospital when Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, while addressing a symposium for senior government employees, suggested that there was pilferage taking place at the hospital at all levels.

Prior to this, hospital administrator Fitzroy Jones, in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT last year, had pointed to pilferage as one of the most serious problems facing the hospital, resulting in thousands of dollars being lost monthly.

Dr Gonsalves’ remarks, however, came in for rebuke by the Public Service Union and to a lesser extent, the Nurses’ Association. The Prime Minister has, however, stood by his comments, saying that while the majority of hospital workers are honest and hard working, there is theft taking place and as Prime Minister he is in his right to speak about it.

SEARCHLIGHT was reliably informed that some senior doctors have taken strong offence to what they believe as their being branded as thieves by some members of the public because of Dr Gonsalves’ statement.

The Medical Association held a meeting with the Prime Minister last week Friday to discuss the issue.

Speaking to SEARCHLIGHT, President of the Medical Association Dr Rosalind Ambrose said that the Association voiced its displeasure to Dr Gonsalves over how the issue was being treated.

She said that that the Association was happy for the opportunity to discuss the matter with the Prime Minister and she was only willing to say that they are satisfied with the discussions.

She said that the Medical Association did not ask for an apology from the Prime Minister for his statements, only for the opportunity to discuss the issue with him, which they got.

Meanwhile, in Parliament on Tuesday, February 24, Minister of Health Dr Douglas Slater said that four persons were disciplined last year at the Milton Cato memorial Hospital for theft.

Dr Slater said that two persons were dismissed, while one was asked to take early retirement and another suspended without pay in connection with that type of activity.

He was at the time responding to a question asked by Opposition Senator Daniel Cummings regarding actions taken against persons who have been found stealing hospital supplies.

He told Parliament that while everything is being done to prevent and to deal with persons who engage in such activities, it is very difficult.

“It is not always easy to get the evidence of who removes any item, but where the evidence is available, the matter is dealt with firmly and without prejudice,” Dr Slater said.

He reiterated to the House that a comprehensive inventory is being conducted and all the necessary systems will be enforced and put in place where needs be, to ensure better accountability at the hospital.

He noted the openness of the hospital and said that tighter security measures, which may not be appreciated by the public, may have to be introduced.

He made it a point to note that the problems of theft at the hospital and other government departments did not begin overnight and existed before his Unity Labour Party government took office in 2001.