A common complaint regarding the country’s health care services has been a grave shortage of mobile ambulances. Often times we hear of incidents of urgency, where regrettably, it takes a very long time for paramedics to arrive at the requested location. One population that is presently experiencing this dilemma is the south, and at last week’s sitting of the House of Representatives, Area Representative for the Dangriga constituency, the Hon. Ivan Ramos, brought up the matter. According to Mr Ramos, two ambulances were donated by Illinois Secretary of State, Jesse White, to the Southern Region, but since the donation was made, the ambulances have not been in use. Ivan Ramos explained the reason for this and pleaded with Government to get the vehicles up and running.
“Today, Mr. Speaker, to my amazement, those two ambulances, to make sure I went there before I came to this house, they are still sitting there, not being used. Why?…simply because they need minor repairs to make them roadworthy, so that they can be used in the district. $5,000 will do the job to repair the rust and those little parts that are needed to make them worthy to be used. Over the past month, Mr. Speaker, Independence Village has been without an ambulance, and how do they go by, dealing with this? If the ambulance of Dangriga is available, then that is dispatched to take care of that situation. But what we also need to take note of, is the fact that the ambulance in Dangriga is only one and it is only operating 60% according to those who are using that ambulance. Mr. Speaker, what tend to compound the whole issue is that the fact that because of the current state of affairs, a lot of money is being spent in terms of overtime and renting on other vehicles to do the jobs that the ambulances, if they were available, could have done. Those overtimes as I understand it, Mr. Speaker, the amount that has been expended so far…could buy a brand new ambulance. So, why do we continue then, to waste resources?”
Hon. Ivan Ramos also spoke on the recent scandal at the Southern Regional Hospital.
Hon. Ivan Ramos: “The country is aware of the fact, then, that monies have been misappropriated at the Southern Regional Hospital; that is a fact…over $400,000! I no need to bring the evidence. I think the Minister has gone on record to say that that is the fact. I don’t’ need to do that, and that investigations continue because it not only affect them (the Southern Regional Hospital) but these are monies that were being paid to NHI, and the purpose as I understand the system was set up, that monies paid into the system will be used to upgrade the facilities and the quality of services that should be available. And so, Mr. Speaker, those investigations continue as I understand and it is also has been said that this investigation has been extended to the NHI component…because monies too are missing. So, this is glaring evidence to show that we are wasting our resources which can be used to upgrade the Southern Region”.
While Minister of Health, Hon. Pablo Marin, didn’t respond to the Area Rep’s concerns on the hospital; he did speak on the situation of the donated ambulances.
“In fact, as we saw the ambulance on their first occasion, I think, Jules saw the state of the ambulance, and that is the thing that we tend to believe that whatever they are donating to us, is in good state. Sometimes it is medical equipment and things like that, and sometimes is second hand and worst in the state that it came from Chicago. Chicago normally uses salt on the roads whenever there is snow or before there is snow, and tat has deteriorated two of the ambulances ad by the time they came here, it got damaged immediately and I think it’s about $7,000 for each ambulance that they told me to meet to repair. What we are doing right now, we are seeking funds. I think there is about one of the funds that we are going to get about four new brand ambulances and we are waiting for three quotations”. It’s about $7,000 for both of them P.M., but if we repair them, it won’t take long and we have to repair it again. So, we are looking for new ambulances right now and we are seeking more funds because the country is in real need of ambulances and we are trying to get as much as we can right now”.
Hon. Dean Barrow- Prime Minister: “How long was that of your concern?”
Hon. Pablo Marin: “It came from a month and the biggest problem that we have right now P.M. is that our drivers are not taking care of our ambulances and right now we are putting in place a system that will put in place and oversee all of this project”.