Pandemic warehouse moving to Carbonear
Health Department denies move political
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