Some Doctors Need More Than Their Heads Examined!
Forget about the two or three who believe that operating a doctor's clinic in Saint Lucia licenses them to pretend they are what they never were. The majority of Saint Lucians will openly admit the only local doctors who have been speaking out for better healthcare in Saint Lucia are named King and Bird. The pair have never been famous for engaging in any bullying tactics with any government, but have spoken out loud about what governments owe the people: better education and affordable healthcare chief among them.
Through their various entities like Rise Saint Lucia Inc. they have also sought to empower Saint Lucians so they might make meaningful and tangible contributions to our country. Their pronouncements have not always received popular support but they never retaliated in ways that left the public wondering whether they had changed from being doctors to regular yard fowl politicians. Their track record as activists is well documented.
Dr. Alphonsus St. Rose, the current leading honcho at the St. Lucia Medical & Dental Association, is a totally different sack of dasheen. Listen to him and you are likely to believe he is an election candidate looking to lead a party in desperate need. Little about him suggests a compassionate individual with a good doctor's bedside manner. Take for example his recent rants after a scheduled meeting with the nation's prime minister had to be postponed.
I have been able to lay my hands on the correspondence between the SLMDA and the office of the prime minister and here the facts: on June 6, 2018 (what is it about June 6 and Allen Chastanet?) the Cabinet Secretary Ben Emmanuel, acting on directives of his prime minister, wrote to the SLMDA in response to a requested meeting. The letter read in part: “I am directed by the Honourable Prime Minister to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated May 23, 2018 outlining the views of the SLMDA on the status of healthcare in Saint Lucia.” The letter went on to point out that the prime minister was out of state and had agreed to “facilitate a meeting with your membership on Friday June 22, 2018 at 10: 30 am”.
On June 11, the executive director of the SLMDA, Deborah Martial, replied to the prime minister, on the stated instructions of SLMDA president Alphonsus St. Rose. The letter stated: “SLMDA is always available and willing to engage Government on mutually respectful, responsible and constructive grounds in seeking out the best solution to this healthcare crisis for the greater good of all of our Saint Lucian citizens. To this end we do confirm our availability to meet with you on June 22.”
n essence Dr. St. Rose was agreeing to a meeting of the SLMDA “membership” and the prime minister. How disingenuous of the SLMDA president to say the PM demonstrated a lack of respect when he cancelled the meeting upon discovering only St. Rose and his executive would be present. After all, he had met with the group before, twice, if memory serves. It also is disingenuous of the president, as I see it, to say it's not possible for the SLMDA's general membership to meet en masse with the PM, given the demand for their services.
The SLMDA went on to issue a long missive clothed as a press release. Dr. St Rose promised the media that he would not take things lying down. The media, by the way, had been summoned by a political activist of the Saint Lucia Labour Party and Dr. St Rose. If Dr. St. Rose and his crew really want to come across as a genuine organisation whose main cause in life is to care for the people's health, they must guard against coming across as amateur politicians. And yes, there's a difference between being an activist for a cause, say, like Dr. King, and a regular garden variety politician on the prowl.
There can be no denying our country has long been neglected when it comes to healthcare, for reasons including some beyond the control of this and previous administrations. Meanwhile, the leading members of the SLMDA, who have grown rich from ministering or appearing to minister to the sick and dying, might consider some other options.
For starters they can pull off those stale SLMDA PSAs now airing and really begin to creatively educate the public on health issues. The SLMDA can offer free clinics, particularly during periods of certain outbreaks and epidemics, and can also give support to empowering citizens with taking on doctors for malpractice. It would also be nice to see a medical board that holds miscreant doctors accountable for their sometimes deadly mistakes. For some time now there has been a public outcry because some opticians withhold patients' prescriptions. There is also charging patients to have their health test results read to them. This, after they pay through their teeth for the tests.
The SLMDA might also do well to investigate what appears to be a small ring of doctors and medical personnel strongarming promoters, as per the NEMO mas ground guidelines, into using their services. These fees, I am told, are sometimes much higher than what some doctors make in a day.
Please SLMDA, could you consider these and look beyond the politics of the current situation, which I do admit is also deserving of immediate attention? However, the health crisis we now face did not start with St. Jude or OKEU and will not end with two or three brand new facilities. The Saint Lucian public must begin to take off their glasses, rose-coloured and yellowed, and see things for what they really are. What we are now experiencing in the name of affordable health care is a far cry from what any genuine doctor would order!