The government of Saint Lucia, through the Director of Implementation in the Office of the Prime Minister, Nancy Charles, has denied putting horses before the health care of locals in the thrust to develop an equestrian industry here.
Charles told a press briefing Monday that it was really fictitious for politicians, would be politicians, ‘wannabe talk show hosts’ and everybody, to create the impression that the Lucia government is placing before the people of Saint Lucia, the needs of private investors and in particular – the issue of horses.
She asserted that Saint Lucians would appreciate a lot of the effort and time that have been spent on health care.
“I think that as an administration we have said over and over again that we are not where we want to be and we should be with regard to health care,” Charles recalled.
“But it is not to say that the government of Saint Lucia has not invested heavily in healthcare and we continue to invest,” the Director of Implementation told reporters.
As it relates to St Jude Hospital and the Owen King EU Hospital (OKEUH), Charles explained that it has been very challenging in getting to where the government wants to be.
“I can assure you with perhaps let’s say the OKEU Hospital, the media were privy to some of the discussions that happened a few weeks ago with the Prime Minister and the EU delegation,” she stated.
“As the Prime Minister explained – and I think sometimes people may view it as an excuse; but because the hospital had been sitting there for so long after completion, a lot of the equipment and some of the things that are needed for the opening and facilitation and operation of the hospital – some of them had gone bad,” according to Charles.
She made reference to the air conditioning unit, noting that Prime Minister Allen Chastanet had explained that the manufacturer was no longer in business, with the result that another source had to be contacted to replace the parts.
Charles said that the situation resulted in delays.
“The second thing that has caused the delay in terms of a full transition – and I think the media should report as much as possible that there has been a partial transition of OKEU; so the impression given out there is that OKEU is closed; but that is not the case.”
Charles asserted that the OKEUH is up and running with a dialysis unit where people go since the one at Victoria Hospital was not in any condition to continue.
“You also have the out patient clinic that is currently operating at OKEU and I think we have orthopedics also operating at OKEU; so we started a partial transitioning,” she observed.
However Charles told reporters that because of the legislation passed by the previous labour administration making the OKEUH and the Wellness Centre into a statutory entity called the Millennium Heights Complex, it meant there could not be a full transition of removing Victoria Hospital as in the current structure and placing it into OKEUH.
She told reporters that legally it could not be done.
“So we coming into office, we had to look at the legalities of it; the staff – what is going to happen to the staff, because they are transitioning as public servants and they would be transitioning into a statutory corporation,” Charles explained.
She said the staff have to be taken care of and steps have to be taken to ensure that people are not disadvantaged in the transition.