Soufriere hospital fire confined to records room

Soufriere hospital fire confined to records room

(PRESS RELEASE) – The Ministry of Health and Wellness called an urgent planning and strategizing meeting at its main office this morning, Nov. 9, on the heels of an early morning fire at the Soufriere Hospital.

Medical Officer for Health, Dr. Sharon Belmar-George, spoke briefly on the situation, the ministry’s response, and intervention measures for the hospital’s clients as services are now temporary relocated.

“Officials from the Ministry of Health and Wellness were alerted after 3 a.m. this morning of a fire at the Soufriere hospital. Due to the quick response of the staff at the institution and the Saint Lucia Fire Service, the fire was confined to the medical records room,” she said. “The other clinical areas of the hospital were not affected by the fire [flames], however, the smoke had spread to other areas making it difficult to provide care. Due to this, the services which we normally provide at the Soufriere hospital have now been relocated to the Etangs Wellness Centre, where we will provide both primary, and urgent care services. We have also extended the hours at the Etangs Wellness Centre to ensure 24-hour access to care. Effective immediately, the Etangs Wellness Centre is open 24 hours to ensure care and service for persons of the Soufriere area and its environs.

“We are also working with other agencies. Presently the Soufriere hospital is in the hands of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force for investigation. As soon as we receive clearance, we will undertake cleanup, electrical assessments and environmental assessments to ensure that the building is fit for the staff members and the clients that we serve.

“In addition, we are working with quite a few other agencies to restore services in a timely manner. We intend to engage the Minibus Association to ensure access to care for persons who need to travel from the Soufriere hospital to the Etangs Wellness Centre, and we also intend to provide the necessary interventions for staff who were at the facility during the incident.

“We have already had discussions with the St. Jude Hospital and the Victoria Hospital. Because Soufriere hospital provided urgent care support, clients who need further care and management will be transferred to either of the two hospitals for further care.

“The Ministry of Health is pleased to report that there has been no loss of life, nor injuries sustained due to the fire. Both the staff members and the patients are all safe. The patients were treated and discharged safely during the incident.

“The Ministry of Health is asking residents of Soufriere to be patient while we work to restore services in a timely manner.”


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  1. "The Ministry of Health and Wellness called an urgent planning and strategizing meeting at its main office this morning..."

    It always concerns me when public agencies make "glossy" pronouncements in the media to avert the public's attention to accountability.

    The report boldly confirms that the fire affected the medical records room, but isn't medical records the the basis by which patients health issues are managed? Isn't records the only way by which the State is held accountable to uphold the rights of citizens? To me it seems that the hospital administration places little significance on the records as i am not aware that the agency responsible for the management of public records, the National Archives, was not invited or involved. But shouldn't that be a priority and of concern to us?

    If we delve into the field of information, we will find out that records management is the only method by which public agencies and officers can be held accountable or operate in transparent manner and guaranteeing the public their democratic rights.

    So how could the public demand accountability and while officials claims that they are transparent and accountable when the sole institution which is charged with the management of public records is either left out of the loop or just plain incompetent to handle public information crisis when they arise?

    People say that corruption is caused by corrupt people but information experts are convinced that it is caused by non existent or inadequate records management. How comes in this day and age (information age) that the records of Ministers, Prime Ministers (phone calls, electronic messages, conversations etc.) are not protected and preserved under a special law which is enforced by the National Archives? Shouldn't the requirement to keep and protect public records be enshrined in our Constitution rather than being at the pleasure of the "Minister" who, by legislation is responsible for the Archives and the records that the Archives seeks to preserve.

    Because by examining the facts and the present status quo wouldn't controversies such as Grynberg, Guy Joseph and numerous other controversies been solved if records mandated to be preserved were preserved? Presently our "go to guy" for information to prosecute St. Lucians seems to be the United States. Why? Because their laws mandate that records be preserved. So why don't we do it for ourselves? Are the same people who are at the center of such controversies, meaning the politicians/law makers, the same people who should implement such records protection measures? But isn't that again the same group who is responsible for vetoing the public demand for more accountability through a Constitutional Reform process?

    We have a freedom of Information Act on our books since 2005, however it has never been given assent or a commencement date by the same politicians. Though my concerns of information preservation is quite dated, I refer to a recent piece in the Voice of St. Lucia dated December 10, 2016, by John Peters "Fredom of Information Act for St. Lucia, at " I am in agreement with most of what he has said, however, the actual situation is much more dire than Peters suggests.

    With every St. Lucian politicians included clamoring for accountability and transparency why have we and by extension them, turn to the obvious? Records management can also be the catalyst to good crime fighting and intelligence management, Justice administration in order that we stem this crime wave that no one seems to have an answer to. Instead governments have gone ahead and shown the opposite in acting privacy laws that would protect information of certain groups of individuals. They have criticized opponents for leaking information while they cry foul in opposition when on the other side of the wall and even call and encourge public officer to leak information.

    My opinion is that the longer there is confusion then division is allowed to flourish. Who wins when division is rife when division is rife within our communities? The politicians, so would they have any intentions of making public information accessible and people knowing their rights? I doubt it. Would a disadvantaged opposition insist or pressure the government to pass the law and adopt such records management practices? I also strongly doubt. Why? Because they are the government in waiting. Why would they encourage the implementation of something where tomorrow if they were lected into office they would be subject to?

    last question, would the public pressure the authorities to implement such measures? This is what i doubt the most. Since we are such extreme political fanatics or hacks i most strongly doubt. Yet we want to compare ourselves to the US and declare ourselves to be independent when we are dependent on the records of other countries for our own stability. What if as we have come to realized that the records and records keeping practices of those other countries who hold our dossiers have been compromised? I refer to the recent findings that US information society has been severely compromised by the infiltration of Russian bots.


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