Princess Margaret Hospital. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
AS Princess Margaret Hospital grapples with rescheduling more than 50 non-emergency surgeries that were cancelled over sabotage suspicions connected to the facility’s chilling system, officials plan to follow through with prosecution if recommended by police.
This is according to Health Minister Dr Duane Sands yesterday, who was adamant the “chips will fall where they may”.
He insisted the Public Hospitals Authority had substantial evidence to support its claims that the chilling system’s failure was the subject of tampering to some degree.
PHA yesterday began installation of a temporary 250-tonne chiller, which is to service the hospital until the permanent air conditioning unit is successfully installed.
As a result, the main driveway to the legacy entrance of PMH off Shirley Street at Burnside Lane was temporarily closed yesterday morning and will remain so for a period of five months to facilitate work on both units.
“The investigation now would be in the hands of the Royal Bahamas Police Force,” Dr Sands told reporters outside Cabinet. “We have no interest in telegraphing or micromanaging or getting involved in the investigation.
“We will turn over all of the information we have and we will allow the Royal Bahamas Police Force to deal with this investigation the way they see fit.
“We have made a decision that the results of the investigation, if there are findings and if there are recommendations for prosecution, justice should be served. So, let the chips fall where they may. No matter who it is that’s involved,” Dr Sands added, as he responded to Public Services Union President Kimsley Ferguson’s remarks on the situation.
Mr Ferguson has said the union would take legal action should its workers again be falsely accused of tampering with the systems.
The BPSU represents workers in PMH’s engineering department.
“I found those comments quite interesting because as I would have said at no time did the PHA or the ministry say anything about members of the BPSU or any other union,” Dr Sands continued.
Dr Sands told The Tribune following Cabinet that “over 50” people could not have elective surgeries last week. He said officials did not yet know how many people were affected last week.
Asked if medical personnel would have to work more hours to fix the back log, the minister said: “The teams consistently, at least orthopedic and vascular surgery as a routine, work every weekend to reduce the backlog. So now this has created yet another issue for patients waiting to get certain procedures done.
“The medical teams certainly have tried to keep the waiting lists down. This has now bumped it back up and we’re going to have to determine how that can be most effectively managed.
“We hope that we don’t have anymore problems. I can’t say the length of time that it’s going to take to get all of those persons inconvenienced back on the schedule, but certainly I know from the surgical consultants and the anaesthesia teams that they are quite willing to try and get the backlog down to the manageable level,” he said.
Caribbean International A/C Services Limited signed a contract valued at $1,151,622.08 with PHA officials last week for air conditioning work.
Dr Sands said at the time the process will take five to six months to complete, inclusive of construction time for the new system.