ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Edson Joseph has reassured citizens that there are sufficient ambulances to serve the needs of the nation.
Joseph’s comment comes days after an elderly woman died in a doctor’s office while reportedly waiting for an ambulance to transport her to Mount St John’s Medical Centre.
The permanent secretary noted that while half the fleet of ambulances are down for repair due to involvement in traffic accidents, the five currently available can serve the populace.
“Presently, we do not have what is considered as a shortage of units,” Joseph said yesterday.
“Five units is a fairly acceptable amount to provide coverage to the country at one particular time. Generally, three units would be fine.”
Assurance is also being given that the remaining five ambulances would be recommissioned for active service as soon at the auto body work is completed.
The ministry, last week, set up a three-member committee headed by a private medical practitioner, to investigate the events that led to the death of the 86-year-old Johnson’s Point woman last Tuesday.
“The investigation is procedural. Every complaint is taken with a matter of seriousness from the ministry,” Joseph said.
“If we look at it and recognise that from a cursory glance, that it is a matter of serious nature, it will be investigated so that we don’t come to a conclusion without having all the facts.
The permanent secretary said the doctor’s office would be contacted.
“I must avail myself with all the evidence pertaining to the incident, most of which I do have,” he said.
“But to be fair to the process, it warrants investigation and any necessary action required will be taken.”
A meeting involving the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) management team and key stakeholders was conducted on Friday.
Dr Jason Belizaire, in whose office the elderly woman passed away, said after he assessed the patient who complained of feeling unwell, a decision was made to transfer her to the hospital.
The doctor explained that the emergency response team was contacted and after time had elapsed a second call was made.
“When we didn’t see them, we called back. Not sure if it was 45 minutes or half an hour when the second call was placed. She was in a bed receiving oxygen, …” Dr Belizaire said. “I was told it would take a little while.”