Such a wreck am I!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Michael Walker

Ugh! Do you ever get re­ally, re­ally fed up with your­self? I mean if you can’t trust your­self, rely on your­self, on whom can you rely or trust? My life is in sham­bles. There I was, nicely mo­rose, brain dead, en­tirely de­void of ideas, ready to quit, when a thought came into my head, and off I went again, writ­ing a new A-Mus­ing af­ter hav­ing sworn never to ap­proach the beast again.

A few years ago, maybe a decade or so be­cause we had a UWP gov­ern­ment, I was in­volved in quite a char­i­ta­ble ad­ven­ture. Ac­tu­ally ‘in­volved’ is not re­ally the right word. I was the ad­ven­ture along with my buddy, Borde­lais Direc­tor Hi­lary Her­mann. In those days I was an avidly ac­tive Ro­tar­ian in the Gros Islet Club and any char­i­ta­ble event in which I was in­volved was usu­ally chan­nelled through the club for pub­lic­ity rea­sons.

As it hap­pened, through one of Hi­lary’s con­nec­tions, I found my­self in touch with an or­ga­ni­za­tion named C.U.R.E. that op­er­ated out of Den­ver, Colorado. C.U.R.E. was quite a snazzy op­er­a­tion: they dis­trib­uted per­fectly good, un­used med­i­cal equip­ment to des­ig­nated coun­tries world­wide – free! Most of these ma­chines and other med­i­cal equip­ment and sup­plies were last year’s mod­els that had been re­placed by newer ver­sions, but were per­fectly us­able.

Get­ting on to the list of ap­proved coun­tries was not easy. The forms I filled in were end­less, but even­tu­ally Saint Lucia be­came a des­ig­nated re­cip­i­ent of C.U.R.E.’s med­i­cal trea­sure trove. Over a pe­riod of two years we re­ceived around 4,000,000 dol­lars’ worth of brand new sup­plies and equip­ment that were handed over to some cen­tral sup­ply or­ga­ni­za­tion at Vic­to­ria Hos­pi­tal, Cas­tries by the Ro­tary Club of Gros Islet.

Through­out this whole process the Min­istry of Health was a silent, not to say sleep­ing part­ner. The Min­istry’s role was to clear the goods at Cus­toms, so you will not be sur­prised to hear that the fees for stor­age grew to in­cred­i­ble heights un­til I fi­nally per­suaded the Min­istry to play its part and get the job done.

I think we re­ceived three con­tain­ers in all be­fore I quit. Not sur­pris­ingly, there was no one around to pick up the ba­ton and con­tinue the col­lab­o­ra­tion, which is al­most al­ways the case. The peo­ple at the Min­istry seemed sub­limely un­in­ter­ested in tak­ing on the project. Now here’s the thing, Saint Lucia does not have a mod­ern CAT scan ma­chine and it oc­curred to me that beg­ging around to get one would not be such a bad idea and my mind turned once again to C.U.R.E.

You see, one of the great in­jus­tices in Saint Lucia is the way that peo­ple ma­lign our doc­tors and go dash­ing off to Mar­tinique as soon as they can scrape the money to­gether. Of course, at the other ex­treme, there are those who put their faith in ‘witch doc­tors’ and their po­tions brewed from lo­cal in­gre­di­ents and put off see­ing a real doc­tor un­til it is too late.

Yes, as in all so­ci­eties, there are good and less good doc­tors, but from per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence I have found that the ma­jor­ity of doc­tors at our hos­pi­tals are ded­i­cated pro­fes­sion­als who work their hearts out to pro­vide the best pos­si­ble health care given the lim­ited means at their dis­posal.

It would seem to me that Gov­ern­ment, on the ba­sis of pro­vid­ing the best pos­si­ble en­vi­ron­ment for the greater good, should con­cen­trate their efforts on sup­plies and equip­ment that would en­able hun­dreds and thou­sands of our cit­i­zens to re­ceive the best pos­si­ble means of de­tect­ing and di­ag­nos­ing prob­lems at the ear­li­est stages.

It sounds tough, I know, but I have had to harden my heart against in­di­vid­ual ap­peals for help. Each in­di­vid­ual case is heart­break­ing and of­ten un­suc­cess­ful, end­ing in pro­longed agony for all con­cerned.

Think of it this way: 20 in­di­vid­u­als at $10,000 each might re­sult in four or five be­ing cured. But how much more use­ful would a $200,000 piece of equip­ment be in de­tect­ing and di­ag­nos­ing prob­lems be­fore they be­came catas­tro­phes?

So, I am go­ing to see if I can find a few bits and pieces of brand new equip­ment float­ing around some­where. I’ll start with C.U.R.E. even though Saint Lucia, be­cause of its lack of en­thu­si­asm af­ter my de­par­ture, might be out of favour. We can’t, af­ter all, rely on Gov­ern­ment, can we?

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