Trinidad’s Health Minister denies that Guyanese man was refused medical care

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Dead: Jeetindra Sookram
Dead: Jeetindra Sookram

[www.inewsguyana.com] – Trinidad and Tobago’s Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan said Guyanese national Jeetindra Sookram was never denied medical care at Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC), Mt Hope, last Thursday.

Sookram, a 35-year-old farmer on holiday in Trinidad, died while en route to another medical institution.

Khan has ordered North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) chairman Shehenaz Mohammed to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Sookram’s death.

Khan also said “pink forms” were not necessary in emergency situations, but they were mandatory for chronic situations like cancer treatment.

 In light of Sookram’s passing, Khan said he asked the regional health authorities to cease the requirement of the filling out of the financial obligation statement at the time of accessing emergency care.

Ernie Ross, Honorary Consul for Guyana in Trinidad and Tobago, has requested Khan investigate the incident.

In a prepared speech, Khan said: “The circumstances and events leading to his passing were tragic and rendered more painful considering the fact they were holidaying here. I want to express my condolences. It is material to note that at no time was the relative advised a failure to pay would result in a denial of further treatment of the patient. Consequently, since 2004, all foreign nationals who are assessing care at EWMSC were asked to sign the financial obligation statement known as the ‘pink form’. 

Trinidad and Tobago Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan
Trinidad and Tobago Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan

“I have directed the chairman (Mohammed) to immediately conduct an investigation into the incident and urgently submit a report on the same. Upon receipt of this report, any further action deemed necessary will be taken.”

Khan then outlined the information he had received from the head consultant at the Accident and Emergency Department.

“He said during the triage process, Sookram’s vitals were checked, blood was taken and dispatched to the lab for testing and an electrocardiogram (ECG) was requested for the patient.

“While the patient was receiving care and awaiting the ECG, Sookram’s wife Vidya Baichu was asked to register the patient at the registration area. She presented a Guyanese passport to the clerk in the registration area.

“The relative was asked to fill in the ‘pink form’, which is a financial obligation statement. The relative enquired the cost of the procedure and the clerk advised she could not give the cost at the time. She refused to sign and left, indicating to the clerk she would come back later.

“From the information received, the patient was attended to and treatment commenced in accordance with our established policy and procedures regarding the treatment of people presenting themselves with chest pains,” said Khan.

In keeping with international standards, Khan said: “Any person, whether resident or non-resident, who presents himself before an Accident and Emergency Department in any public health care institution locally, will be treated. There is no policy denying emergency medical treatment to visitors to our shores.” [Trinidad Express]

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