Using the age-old belief that nobody can tell your story the way you can; I am pleased I did and was allowed the opportunity for publication from my experience and the situation at hand, from the standpoint of a medical doctor.
By Guest Contributor
The question is often awkward when queried that St Kitts and Nevis deserve a healthcare system manned by personnel who are motivated, incentivized, respected, well-compensated, and given the tools needed to succeed.
However, doctors like myself who advocate for that kind of change are met with threats to be replaced by a planeload of Cubans for half of an already meager pay. This points to blatant disrespect to our Cuban colleagues and a stain on St Kitts and Nevis with a colonial past rooted in Transatlantic Slave Trade and indentured servitude.
How does one explain that a medical chief of staff, who has worked in several countries, including the USA, who has had opportunities to witness first-hand the functioning of a proper healthcare system, come back to his country and accept the mediocrity that passes for healthcare at Joseph N France General Hospital (JNF)?
Of course, one will proffer the argument that when he first arrived there was no air conditioning in the operating room: He fixed that. Or that he has single-handedly raised the dress code standards of the medical schools on the island to include shirt and tie. But even with the installation of air conditioning units, and raising the bar on fancy outfits that line the hospital halls – a definition of progress that can be likened to putting lipstick on a pig, we are still merely shuffling deck chairs on the titanic.
Because, to date, Kittitians are being met with unfortunate conditions unbecoming of the delivery of healthcare in 2020. So, I dare ask; Why is no effort being made to abolish the archaic operational standards of the institution to one that promotes exceptional service and a true state of the art care for the people of St Kitts and Nevis?
If given the opportunity as doctors, we can create an environment that stimulates growth and upward mobility, one that rewards continued education and development of skills instead of one that wreaks of stagnancy. This system that we have to work under is not broken by default. It is broken by design because some affluent doctors have found a way to profit from the dysfunction, irrespective from seemingly conflict of interest, cloaked to “ serving the nation.”
It is reckoned that the general good must never be relegated to second place while decision-makers prioritize self-indulgence, whether political or personal.
At year-end, when one pacifies the operating theater and surgical staff with a party; while all-year-round she/he hoards thousands a week ostensibly made in the government’s operating room, apparently using supplies paid for by taxpayers and riding on the backs of the underpaid government workers. Can we as young doctors continue to turn a blind eye to a system that stifles its people, eats its young, and ignores the needs of its elderly and vulnerable?
The time to stand up for the future generation – your children and grandchildren – is now. Let us demand more for the people who wouldn’t accept for themselves and their children the very standards they impose on others.
I am not swayed by the silly season we find ourselves in. I have no political agenda because this neglect spans multiple administrations and all too often, politics takes precedence over policy. But, this system is in dire need of an overhaul; a changing of the guards if you will; a functional hospital under the guidance of an independent statutory board; an internationally accredited institution equipped to charge a fair market price to Kittitians, and tourists that grace our shores requiring care. St Kitts and Nevis need the economic returns poured back into the healthcare system to improve the lives of our very own.
Now is the time for leadership that sits on the side of its employees; one that speaks solidarity and is governed by principles of a practice to which doctors have sacrificially dedicated their lives to. The time to create the healthcare that our Federation deserves is now.