An issue debated in the House of Representatives was that of the unfortunate deaths of some dozen newborns at the KHMH. The Pan-American Organization Health Organization launched an investigation into the matter and concluded that eight of those deaths were linked to a fairly common bacterium known as Entero-bactea cloacae which invaded the hospital sometime between February and May. Pediatric and neurology specialist Dr. Tulio Mendez, who is also the Area Rep. for Orange Walk East, has been quite vocal on the issue, especially since he cautioned the House earlier this year at the Budget Debate on possible infections at the hospital. At yesterday’s sitting, in the absence of Minister of Health the Hon. Pablo Marin, he again brought up the incident; this time requesting the expulsion of the Minister.
Tulio Mendez – Area Rep. for Orange Walk East [PUP]
The health of a nation is determined by the quality of services that provided, and it determines our existence as a nation. Mr. Speaker, I just want to say today that the 13 babies that died in Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital just added to this year’s infant mortality. Infant mortality is very important. It is one of the key indicators of the health status of a nation. Of course I wanted to go into the details of the problem at the Karl Heusner, but the minister of Health is not present, and I will second the motion by the Corozal South East Area Representative. He’s supposed to resign. The latest situation at the Karl Heusner was horrendous.
Speaking on the Minister’s behalf, the Hon. Michael Finnegan, defended his colleague. And in doing so also spoke about personal medical records and hospital biohazards which were recently discovered in an old abandoned hospital in San Ignacio.
Hon. Michael Finnegan:
Mr Speaker, it is really unfair to try to dabble in what is happening at the hospital, and dabble it into politics and try to get political miles out of it. Now let me explain to you something, Sir. When a person is elected by the Prime Minister to be a Minister of Government, he’s not elected to be a Minister of Government to be at work and to run in the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital 24 hours a day, and to pick up every bottle and to fly every piece of paper in the hospital, Sir. The Minister of Health’s position is to make sure that Government’s policy, as far as possible, is put in place, and Government Officers carry out Government’s policies when the Minister of Health informs then of what is Government’s policy. We know that there are problems at the hospital, but I can’t blame the Minister if one baby is dead. He’s not dead because of the negligence of the Minister of Health, or the Minister of Health wanted the baby to die. No. It is the negligence of people who are put in place at the hospital. What we need to do as a Government is to find out what is happening, and to inject what is happening, so that what is happening does not continue to happen again. [Referring to then former San Ignacio Hospital] I watched on the television, right there on Friday night and last night. Yes. It was a public disgrace. They were supposed to move all the vials and all the paper documents with people’s names and particulars to the new hospital. My God! When the television station went there all the vials with all the blood, they were in a box down upon the ground. Needles were spread around all over the place. All the files and documents belonging to patients are laying all about, and there’s dust all over the place. You can’t blame the Minister for that. Man. The Minister has people that they put in place to oversee and to manage these situations.