The President of the Saint Lucia Medical and Dental Association (SLMDA), Dr. Merle Clarke, has responded to reports that the organisation’s members had decided to withhold service at the Millennium Heights Medical Complex (MHMC) outpatient clinic.
An MHMC release on Monday said the Officer in Charge of the Complex, Roger Inglis, confirmed being aware of the situation.
The release said Inglis advised that he had received SLMDA correspondence regarding unresolved issues, including due gratuity payments to doctors whose contracts ended on March 31, 2023.
But SLMDA President Dr. Merle Clarke said the organisation was at a ‘complete loss’ regarding why the MHMC sent out the release.
Clarke said the document was ‘inappropriate and unnecessary’.
She acknowledged issues between the SLMDA and the MHMC, including gratuity payments, the majority of which still need to be made.
However, the SLMDA President explained that the association understood its responsibility to care for the public.
“We will never abandon that duty. We never have and we never will,” Clarke asserted in a statement broadcast Wednesday on Newsspin.
And while emphasising the need to protect the public, she spoke of the need for some basics to give the best possible care.
At the same time, Clarke declared, “We as a group cannot be taken for granted.”
She said the SLMDA wanted to make that clear, but not at the public’s expense.
“It would seem that we called off outpatient clinics but we certainly had called patients whom we thought their care or their being seen could not be delayed. So we did have a very robust plan in place to protect the general public,” the SLMDA President told Newsspin.
In addition, she said the MHMC release made it appear that the issue related only to gratuities.
But Clarke said the long-delayed gratuities represented the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“Given how much we have to shoulder, it is very unfair that after much correspondence and so much consultation that, we are currently in this position,” the SLMDA President stated.