Sands: Non-emergency surgeries at PMH expected to resume this week

Union pres. suggests minister alleging sabotage to hide “incompetence”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Four days after all non-emergency surgeries at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) were suspended as authorities investigated the “possible sabotage” of the hospital’s chiller system, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands advised yesterday that temporary chillers have been ordered and should be installed tomorrow.

According to the minister, the cost to repair the damaged chiller will be $1.2 million.

He said it will cost $20,000 to land the rental chillers in The Bahamas, and $8,500 a month to rent for the next five months.

Sands advised that once the chillers are installed, he expects surgical services to resume.

In a statement last week, the PHA said, “The public is hereby advised that with immediate effect, all scheduled major surgical procedures for the operating theaters at the Princess Margaret Hospital have been suspended.

“Only emergency cases will be facilitated at this time.”

It added, “Following months of challenges associated with maintenance, power failures and possible sabotage, PMH has commenced works to facilitate the installation of an upgrade to the chiller system of the Critical Care Block (CCB) and will engage the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) to investigate a possible compromise in security.”

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

Ferguson, who represents the workers in the engineering department, asserted that the chiller unit was old and expressed confidence that no one tampered with the system.

“Politicians are finding persons to use as scapegoat to cover their own incompetence,” he charged.

“If you have a unit and [run] it 24/7 you will find that wear and tear will happen, and so, as a result of that those chillers were bad and we knew that [for] a while.

“Now they are replacing the old with new.

“You cannot sabotage a chiller.”

Ferguson also dismissed any suggestion that unionized members were to blame, insisting that even in the case of industrial action, employees would never jeopardize the lives of anyone.

He said, “If there was any sort of industrial action taking place we would not jeopardize the lives of Bahamians to get the point across and so the claims of sabotage are ludicrous.”

Despite the union president’s statement, Sands has maintained that the chiller was sabotaged, but has yet to expound of what has led authorities to that conclusion.

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