St. Vincent: Minister denies healthcare worker contracted TB while caring for patient

By CMC

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Health Minister Luke Browne

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb 18, CMC – Health Minister, Luke Browne, has denied that a healthcare worker contracted tuberculosis as a result of caring for a patient at the Mental Health Rehabilitation Centre (MHRC).

“The healthcare worker who was the subject of the memo from the DMO (district medical officer) to the CMO (chief medical officer) did not have active tuberculosis,” Browne told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) after opposition legislator, Daniel Cummings, last week told a news conference that he had information that appeared to contradict the claim by the Ministry of Health that there are no active cases of tuberculosis (TB) at the MHRC.

“The facts on this score were well ventilated. The Prime Minister, during his contribution to the debate on the budget, made a statement signed by the Medical Officer of Health, the Senior Nursing Officer with responsibility for the Mental Health Rehabilitation Centre and the Infectious Disease Specialist on this subject,” Browne said.

In the February 7 statement, it was disclosed that “one patient with history at the institution recently died from complications of tuberculosis and other medical conditions at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.

“As with all infectious diseases of this nature, contract tracing was initiated, and this [led] to patients and staff at the Mental Health Rehabilitation Centre being screened,” the statement said, noting that “the screening showed no cases of active tuberculosis”.

But Cummings read from a January, 30, 2019 note that a district medical officer sent to the chief medical officer supporting a health care worker’s application for leave as a result of a positive tuberculosis test.

“And, again, my intention here, is the protection of people’s privacy,” said Cummings as he read an excerpt of the communication after being repeatedly challenged by the media to provide evidence of his claim.

“On the 27th of January, the mother of two in question consulted me with her reported remarkable Mantoux test,” Cummings quoted the memo as saying, adding that he had left out the name of the patient, that the test is for TB, and “remarkable simply means that the test was positive.

“They were both anxious and very concerned about the occurrences detailed. [The lady] stated that she was duty-bound to be constantly in close contact with a tested positive active TB/other infection male patient recently deceased. This, understandably, further compounded their anxieties,” Cummings further quoted the report as stating.

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