Patients still being housed at 'unsafe' hospital block
Despite safety concerns with the Central Block of the Port of Spain General Hospital, a number of patients continue to be housed there.
Structural engineers have advised that the main block of the hospital which houses 400 beds is structurally unsound and unsafe, and could collapse in the event of an earthquake.
Questioned about the matter at a news conference at the Ministry of Health on Friday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh acknowledged the safety issues but said nothing could immediately be done.
"Right now we have no choice, where would we put them?" he asked.
He said while plans to reconstruct the block have been set in motion with Cabinet approval for a new 500-bed block, he could not give a time frame for when the works would begin or a time for completion.
He said a team from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) will be making a site visit next week to determine a way forward and within a month an operational plan will be taken to Cabinet for approval.
But Deyalsingh said the dilapidated state of the Central Block is not a new issue but has been in a sad state for many years.
He said successive governments have failed to address the issue and the present government is now determined to find a permanent solution.
During a meeting between Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Tuesday, the issue of the opening of the Couva hospital was raised as a matter requiring urgent attention, in light of the impending loss of 400 beds while the Central Block is being rebuilt.
Deyalsingh however slammed the previous government which he said had totally ignored the Central Block issues for the five years they were in power, and unjustifiably constructed the Couva Children's Hospital.
"What is sad is that the last administration ignored it totally and built what they call a children's hospital. It was a total dereliction of duty on their part not to fix Central Block. What was needed in this country was the fixing of the Central Block between 2010 and 2015, not a children's hospital with 70 beds for children."
Deyalsingh said there were a number of issues at the hospital which have been ignored for years, which he had personally stepped in to have fixed.
Among these were moldy walls and grimy windows at the minor operating theater which he said was fixed just two weeks ago at a minimal cost of $3000.