Pan­demic ware­house mov­ing to Car­bon­ear

Health Depart­ment de­nies move po­lit­i­cal

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY ASH­LEY FITZ­PATRICK

An East­ern Health ware­house full of pro­tec­tive med­i­cal sup­plies is be­ing emp­tied in Mount Pearl, and the sup­plies are be­ing moved to Car­bon­ear.

The n e w s t o ra g e lo­ca­tion will be in the home district of Health Mi n i s t e r Jerome Kennedy, who also hap­pens to be the MHA for Car­bon­ear-Har­bourGrace, but spokes­peo­ple for both East­ern Health and the Depart­ment of Health have stated, the move is not be­ing made for po­lit­i­cal rea­sons.

“ Wh e n the H1N1 pand e m i c a r o s e in 2009, East­ern Health tem­po­rar­ily es­tab­lished leased ac­com­mo­da­tions in Mount Pearl for a sup­ply of per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment for pan­demic use,” a spokes­woman for East­ern Health said last Mon­day. Aug. 8.

“ The lease for this sup­ply has now ex­pired, and the ma­te­rial will be moved to less ex­pen­sive leased ac­com­mo­da­tions un­til space owned by East­ern Health is avail­able to per­ma­nently house the sup­ply.”

No other rea­son was given by East­ern Health for the move­ment of the sup­plies, other than the lease was up in Mount Pearl and there is space avail­able at an ex­ist­ing East­ern Health lo­ca­tion in Car­bon­ear.

The Tele­gram asked about the pan­demic equip­ment af­ter re­ceiv­ing an email from some­one claim­ing to be an East­ern Health em­ployee. The email was signed, “ John Smith.”

“ If (the move is hap­pen­ing),” the au­thor asked, “ is it a ben­e­fit to East­ern Health to do s o , o r is it j u s t a benef it for Mr. Kennedy’s rid­ing?”

That ques­tion was put to the Depart­ment of Health.

“ This was not a po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated de­ci­sion,” a spokes­woman for t h e d epa rtme n t re­sponded.

“East­ern Health made the de­ci­sion to move the pan­demic ware­house from Mount Pe a r l t o C a rbone a r when the lease for the space in Mount Pearl ex­pired. East­ern Health was able to se­cure space in Car­bon­ear for a lower price than the space in Mount Pearl , s aving some $ 72,000. The lease in Car­bon­ear is for six months, at which time East ern Hea l t h w i l l ex­plore other op­tions.” The Depart­ment of Health has said the change in lo­ca­tion for the equip­ment stor­age will not af­fect any fu­ture pan­demic re­sponse.

The first case of H1N1 in­fluenza was con­firmed in the prov­ince in mid-June 2009, in Grand Falls-Wind­sor. By midDe­cem­ber, 333,967 peo­ple (about 66 per cent of the pro­vin­cial pop­u­la­tion) had re­ceived a shot of the H1N1 vac­cine.

Kennedy was not min­is­ter of Health when the H1N1 pan­demic first struck the prov­ince. He be­came Health min­is­ter fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion of MHA Paul Oram on Oct. 7, 2009.

Jerome Kennedy, min­is­ter of Health and MHA, Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace

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