|Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan speaks with reporters Monday (Newsday photo)|
The minister was reacting to the recent death of a Guyanese who went to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC) for emergency treatment for a suspected heart attack.
The widow of Jeetindra Sookram, Vidya Bachew, told local media that Sookram suffered pains about his body and she took him to the emergency department of the hospital, where he was denied treatment. Sookram died on his way to another medical institution.
Khan held a media conference Monday to clarify the issue, making the point that the Guyanese couple left the hospital during the registration process and that the hospital did not refuse them treatment.
The minister stated:
- At the hospital, an ECG was requested while Sookram’s vitals were checked, and blood taken and sent to the lab
- A relative produced the patient's Guyanese passport during the registration process
- The authorities asked the family to fill out a financial obligation statement
- The patient's wife asked the cost of the procedure; the clerk did not know the cost
- The relative did not sign the document.
- The family left, saying they would return; they did not
He added that persons rarely filled out the financial obligation form and "in the past few years no one had been charged". He promised that authorities would no longer ask for anyone to sign the form in emergency cases.
"Let me reiterate the policy position of the Ministry of Health and by extension, the Regional Health Authorities, which is in keeping with this internationally accepted practice. Any patient, whether resident or non-resident, who presents himself before any Accident and Emergency Department in any public health care institution in Trinidad and Tobago, will be treated,” he said
Khan also told reporters that he has directed chairman of the North-Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA), Dr Shehenaz Mohammed for a report, which he said would determine what further necessary action would be taken.