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One hundred and twenty-two patients from the Central Block of the Port-of-Spain General Hospital (PoSGH) have been relocated over the past two days to wards on the North Block of the hospital and the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC) and all elective surgeries have been suspended pending further notice.
This was the word from North-West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) CEO Wendy Ali as she oversaw the process.
She told the T&T Guardian: “We are preparing another ward and executing a plan to get the place ready for the re-opening of the Haematology clinic, so there is a lot going on. Work continues apace as we continue to do what we have to do so that we can get back to some state of readiness and building out bed capacity.”
Ali said it was the first time such an exercise had been done.
“I don’t know that anyone ever decanted five floors of a public hospital. It was a great learning experience. We had a Disaster Committee Preparedness plan we put it into action and of course, while we were doing it there was a lot of collaboration and support from external and internal parties.
“I think we did the best that we could in the shortest possible time.”
She said they had a lot of support from the Defence Force, Fire, Prisons and Police Service and it was a great team effort.
Ali said elective surgeries had to be put on hold because they needed to keep the beds for persons who are acutely ill. While the decanting has been completed, she said the process will continue this weekend to bring back up all the services. She commended the doctors and nurses for staying committed to doing what is required in the circumstances.
The T&T Guardian understands Defence Force members assisted with removing beds and other equipment and supplies from the Central Block on Thursday night, as patients were relocated to wards in the North Block.
Yesterday, the NWRHA said the decision to relocate the patients “was taken out of an abundance of caution” to ensure the continued safety of staff, patients and visitors in light of the 6.9 earthquake and in the event of further aftershocks.
The Accident and Emergency (A&E) department remains open and will continue to provide full service.
In the interim, the Haematology clinic has been relocated to the St James Medical Complex and 14 patients from the Gerontology Ward at the St James Medical Complex have been relocated to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex.
North Central Regional Health Authority CEO Davlin Thomas said the EWMSC had accepted two tiers of patients. He admitted that the decanting had placed an additional burden on the EWMSC but assured everything was done to ensure the “transition was seamless and excellent.”
However, T&T Registered Nurses Association president Idi Stuart told the T&T Guardian that although they agreed with the decision to decant, “the manner in which it is being done really leaves one to wonder whether patients will get adequate care.”
Stuart said two wards from the old section of the hospital were being used to accommodate patients from the fourth and fifth floors.
“The remaining floors, they are trying to squeeze them into one ward of the hospital so you have six wards coming together to be housed in one ward. This mass exodus is really causing numerous problems, we are trying to reassure our members that with all that is happening patient safety remains paramount.”
He also expressed concern that because six wards were merged there would be an issue with “bathrooms because there is one bathroom for male patients and one for female patients.
Ali said the issue of the bathrooms was being addressed “but Mr Stuart must understand that this was an emergency.” She said some bathrooms were refurbished yesterday and will be made available for use.
Meantime, the Ministry of Health says as of yesterday patients from the Central Block were relocated to wards within the PoSGH, EWMSC, and the Caura Chest Hospital. It assured that the relocation was “conducted in a manner that ensured respect for patients and maintained optimal quality of care.”
Some 35 Rio Claro East Secondary students have now been graded in Principles of Business and Principles of Accounts by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) and the majority of them received passes.
This was confirmed yesterday by the Ministry of Education chief education officer Harrilal Seecharan at a media conference at the ministry’s Port-of-Spain headquarters.
In commending CXC for their quick response to the issue, Seecharan said according to a preliminary report received on Monday, it was found that the samples of the students’ work were not done. He, however, added that the respective marks for both subjects were completed and the marks uploaded and their “ungraded” status was revised.
“The other requirement, which is following the submission of the marks, where samples of students’ work needed to be uploaded to CXC for the moderation was not done and hence the reason for students receiving ungraded in those two subjects,” Seecharan said.
“Fortunately for us, copies of those SBAs, the samples, were lodged in the exam section,” he added.
Seecharan said the ministry contacted CXC on Tuesday morning on the issue and by Thursday they got a response “where students’ grades were adjusted based on the samples submitted.”
In terms of who is to be held culpable for what happened, Seecharan said that is currently under investigation.
“Based on the preliminary report and following due process, in terms of clearly establishing what transpired at the level of the school for the non-submission and confirmation of those results and based on that…we would decide what is the next step.”\
Education Minister Anthony Garcia interjected, saying the ministry has established clear guidelines and procedures for SBAs which are prepared at the level of the school.
“Something happened where confirmation was not done…but there is always the possibility of human error.”
When asked if disciplinary action can be taken against the teacher or principal if the error was on their part, Garcia replied: “It is at the preliminary stage and at this stage I cannot say if anyone is culpable, but if it arises certainly we will move to the next stage but I cannot say at this point in time. We can only contemplate that if there is evidence.”
On another issue, Garcia said a number of schools had sustained damage during Tuesday’s 6.9 earthquake and have been put on a priority list by the structural engineer at the Ministry of Works. However, he said the ministry could not say how many schools would have to undergo corrective works until they get a completed report.
He speculated that based on the report, there could be delays in the reopening of some schools at the start of the new school term.
A 47-year-old financial manager of a Caroni company, who is accused of embezzling $1.3 million from her former employer, had her bail doubled when she appeared in court yesterday morning.
Deanna Naalini, 48, of St Augustine Circular Road, Tunapuna, was granted $300,000 bail by a Justice of the Peace on Thursday, as she could not attend court while the Judiciary was continuing structural checks on courts around the country following Tuesday’s 6.9 magnitude earthquake.
However, when she appeared before Magistrate Debra Quintyne in the Tunapuna Magistrate’s Court yesterday morning, Naalini’s bail was increased to $600,000.
As part of the conditions of her bail, Naalini was ordered to surrender her passport and report to police three times a week for the duration of her case.
Naalini, a former employee of TYE Manufacturing Company Limited, was slapped with 88 charges—32 offences of money laundering; 32 offences of larceny and 24 offences of falsification of accounts.
She was not called upon to plead to the charges during the hearing.
The company reported the fraud to the Fraud Squad after it was discovered earlier this year.
An investigation was conducted by a team of detectives led by Senior Supt Totaram Dookie and she was arrested on Monday.
In addition to the charges, investigators have obtained orders from the High Court freezing her bank accounts and seizing a Volkswagen Passat sedan, pursuant to the Proceeds of Crime Act.
The charges were laid by Sgt Cornelius Samuel. Naalini will reappear in court on September 12.
Amid increased uncertainty and fear about the future of Petrotrin and job security, the state-owned company is assuring the public that there has been no change in its operations.
Social media was abuzz yesterday with warnings of an impending shutdown at the company, army personnel being trained to run the refinery, particularly the bond, a private entity taking over operations, mass retrenchment and Petrotrin Estate officers providing security for board members.
The public was also warned about a fuel shortage and advised to fill up their tanks. This caused panic buying of fuel at several stations across the country.
The T&T Guardian was also bombarded with calls and messages by concerned citizens, including workers and contractors, about the information being circulated yesterday.
However, around 4 pm yesterday Petrotrin sent out a release in response to the plethora of rumours. The release said Petrotrin has invited the executive of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) to a meeting at 10.30 am on Tuesday (August 28) for a presentation by the board on the way forward for the company.
It further stated, “The company wishes to advise the public and all concerned that Petrotrin continues to operate normally and that there has been no change to routine activity. Petrotrin will advise the public of any change as necessary.”
However, a company source said they knew something big was going to happen but no one knew exactly what was being planned.
Calls to the cell phone of OWTU president general Ancel Roget went unanswered yesterday, but research and education officer Ozzi Warwick said the union had received no confirmation of the information being circulated yesterday.
“We are not aware of any of that happening. As far as we are concerned, nothing is going to deter the union and workers from coming out on Sunday, when we will converge at the official residence of the Prime Minister,” he said.
Former labour minister Rudranath Indarsingh, meanwhile, said Petrotrin workers were in a state of stress and anxiety. He called on the Government to come clean on what was agreed to in Cabinet about Petrotrin two weeks ago.
“The UNC is calling upon the Prime Dr Keith Rowley and the chairman of the board of directors of Petrotrin Wilfred Espinet to clear the air on whether the refinery has been sold and what is the future of the 3,000 employees and also how the closure of the refinery will impact on the economy of Gasparillo, Pointe-a-Pierre, Marabella, Vistabella and San Fernando.”
He warned that any closure of the refinery would decimate small and medium contractors.
A Sangre Grande mechanic was gunned down by a one-legged man who became enraged because he had to wait too long to collect $100 he had asked the boss and employees of the business place for.
Shammie Phillip, 35, was at his Ramdass Street, Sangre Grande workplace around 10.30 am when he was shot in the head at point blank range by the man, who lives next door, police said.
According to police reports, the suspect usually went to Phillip’s workplace every payday (Fridays) to ask the owner of the business, a garbage collection contractor and his employees for assistance because one of his legs was amputated a few months ago.
Yesterday, the amputee went to the business’ gate and asked for $100, but was asked to wait until employees were paid. He stood opposite the business for a while before he left.
However, he returned to the compound later, said good morning to the boss and went to Phillip, who was standing close to a vehicle behind the main gate.
The amputee then pulled out a gun and shot Phillip in his head. Phillip died instantly
An employee who saw when Phillip was shot called for assistance and other workers ran outside where they saw their co-worker lying dead.
The attacker then reportedly hopped across to his home and sat at the back. Police who responded were able to arrest him without any resistance sometime afterwards.
He told reportedly told police he killed Phillip because he was “frustrated and distressed” over his inability to take care of himself since his amputation.
As news spread, family members rushed to Phillip’s workplace.
His girlfriend Marisha became hysteric and sat near her boyfriend holding on to the iron gate and screaming. She sat on the ground until police removed her. Phillip’s sisters and nephew were also comforted by police officers.
Phillip, who was from Vega de Oropouche, was described by villagers as a quiet man who loved to play music.
They said when he was not working he would ply his car for hire from Sangre Grande to Vega de Oropouche. He was described by his boss and co-workers as a hardworking individual who was always punctual and when asked to work extra time never refused.
District Medical Officer Dr Elijah Fagorala viewed the body and ordered its removal to the Forensic Sciences Centre, St James, for a postmortem on Monday.
The 34-year-old suspect remains in police custody and is expected to be charged with murder. Phillip’s murder brought the toll for the year to 353.
Visiting the scene were Snr Supt Garth Nelson, Acting ASPs Joseph, Etienne, Insp Ken Lutchman, Cpl Joseph and Pcs Cielto, Samuel, and Thomas. Cpl Stanisclaus of Homicide Bureau Region II Arouca is continuing investigations.
This was the second murder in Sangre Grande within a few days. Last Thursday, Dr Sinanan Lutchman, of Guaico, Tamana, was gunned down at his Paul Street, Sangre Grande office.
Mother of two Salasha Ali may have received a second miracle of life yesterday after she survived a horrid accident in which an industrial mobile welding plant ploughed into her at the side of the road in Cunupia.
Ali, 30, was standing at her vegetable stall at the side of Chin Chin Road when the heavy plant was thrown from the tray of a three-tonne truck which overturned as the driver took a bend.
Although she was alive at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex last evening, Ali was said to be in a “bad state” and up to press time was in the A&E department undergoing several tests.
Her 11-year-old daughter, who was also struck by the equipment, was also lucky after sustaining a minor injury to one of her eyes. She was treated at the Accident and Emergency Depart (A&E) of the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mount Hope and subsequently discharged.
During an interview hours after the incident, Ali’s husband, Michael Sookwah, 51, said just seconds before tragedy struck he was standing at his wife’s side, where the three of them had just packed out ochroes, pommecythere, lemon and lime to sell on a table.
“I had just walked away from Salasha and her daughter when I saw this van speeding coming. In a split second I heard the brakes of the van bawling and as he take the corner I saw when this machine just pitch out from the tray and hit my wife and daughter. The machine landed on her right side, pinning she to the ground,” a worried Sookwah recalled.
Sookwah said his wife sustained a broken leg and hand along with other injuries to her right-side and head.
“She badly off from what I see,” Sookwah said with tears in his eyes.
He added that the driver of the van, on realising what had taken place, stopped and reversed the vehicle to where his wife lay on the side of the road.
“He came out and helped us lift the machine from off of her, but up to now he never said a word to us. Not even anyone from the company the man working for has even tried to contact us.”
The three-tonne truck, TDG 3594, sported the company’s name in a banner fixed on its windscreen. The vehicle belongs to a construction company which is owned by a villager, bystanders said.
Sookwah said he and his wife do gardening and it was normal for them to put stalls along the road to sell their produce. He, however, noted that they had just recently decided to set up at the spot where the incident occurred.
“We come there about two weeks now and we have always been careful,” he said.
Sookwah scolded the driver of the vehicle for speeding and for not securing the heavy equipment.
“He wrong for speeding, especially around corners. If that was tied the entire van would have flipped but it pitch from the van. I just want to see my wife come back good and she gets compensation. I want to see that man in police custody and charged by the police.”
Eyewitness to the incident Foster Antoine, said he was willing to testify in any case which may go before the court. He noted that at that particular corner a lot of drivers tend to speed.
“How much time I will see speeding around this corner and how much time I will be saving people. I live around this corner and I see the van coming and I shout ‘clear’ but it was too late. The woman get pinned down and break leg, hand, ribs and neck,” he said.
“Them people trying to make an honest dollar. Now what will become of her?”
The T&T Guardian understands that the driver was questioned by police investigators and subsequently released.
Officers of the Cunupia Police Station are continuing investigations.