Health minister clarifies sabotage remarks

Health Minister, Dr. Duane Sands.

Rental chilling units to be installed today to resume non-emergency surgeries at PMH

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday that if there are recommendations for prosecution related to the sabotage of the hospital’s chillers, prosecution will follow.

Sands, who was speaking to reporters outside the Churchill Building, said, “If there are findings, and if there are recommendations for prosecution, we will proceed to prosecution. Justice should be served. Let the chips fall as they may.”

The Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) advised last week that with immediate effect scheduled major surgical procedures for the operating theaters at Princess Margaret Hospital were suspended, and only emergency cases could be facilitated.

The move followed what the PHA said was months of challenges associated with maintenance, power failures and “possible sabotage”.

Sands has said the PHA would not have made a statement “as serious as that, unless we were absolutely convinced there was merit to making it”.

On Monday, Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) President Kimsley Ferguson said he believes the PHA and minister have claimed sabotage to “hide their incompetence”.

Ferguson added that legal action would be taken if its workers were accused of sabotaging the chiller system.

Sands nor health officials accused the union of sabotage.

Yesterday, the health minister reiterated that he never accused the union members and said he found Ferguson’s accusations ‘interesting’ and lacking accuracy.

“At no time did the PHA or the ministry say anything about members of the BPSU,” he said.

Although evidence has not been provided to the public to validate the claim, Sands said the investigation into the matter is ongoing and the ministry hopes to resolve the issue soon.

Addressing suggestions that the chiller system failed due to unchecked repairs and technicians’ inability to perform them due to a lack of tools, Sands said, “There’s some merit to some of these concerns.

“There have been issues about the availability of supplies, funding and so forth, but that in no way explains what has happened to the cooling system right now.”

Sands confirmed that the temporary chillers for PMH have arrived in New Providence and should be “hooked up and ready to go by tomorrow (Wednesday).”

Repairs on the chiller system is expected to cost $1.2 million.

The rental units will cost the PHA $8,500 per month for the next five months, according to officials.

This article was written by Marechan Burrows – Eyewitness News Intern.