By Asot A. Michael
It appears that Minister of Health wants me to apologize to the medical team at Mount St John Medical Centre (MSJMC) for experiencing chest pains, shortness of breath. He also wants an apology for my legitimate expectation that in this life-threatening condition I would have received emergency attention at the state-owned medical facility on arrival there with Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel on October 22nd, 2020.
Minister Molwyn Joseph is unconcerned that I was ignored by staff at MSJMC as I sat in a wheelchair in the hallway only to be informed that I had to wait. He is totally insensitive to the fact that not being sure how much longer I would have to wait or if I would get any attention at all. Therefore, it was necessary to leave in search of the medical care I desperately needed at the time.
All Mr. Joseph is concerned about is “the way the hospital was portrayed in the media” in an interview with Observer Radio which he felt “could result in reputational harm that’s inimical to the interest of the Public”. So, he wants an apology, willfully ignoring the fact that the reputational harm of which he speaks is caused by the very uncaring, unprofessional treatment I received at first instance – an experience shared daily by hundreds of patients who have sought attention at MSJMC.
The Emergency Room (ER) has been woefully understaffed for years, something I have complained of bitterly in Cabinet on a number of occasions. But the Minister has always found excuses claiming that the people are abusing the ER for medical matters that can be handled at community clinics when he well knows that a number of the clinics, like the one in Parham, do not have basic medical supplies.
More than that, because of my refusal, at the request of Mr. Joseph to issue any apology, he directed surrogates at MSJMC to issue a press release loaded with blatant lies and deliberate distortions of what actually transpired calculated to put me in bad light.
The emergency services were called to my home because I was having difficulty breathing and was also experiencing chest pains. I was rushed to Mount St. John’s Medical Centre in an ambulance. After I was taken from the ambulance, the EMS personnel advised the intake at the ER that I was there and also described the condition I was in. The intake personnel responded in a rude manner to the EMS, telling them, ‘He will just have to wait.’I waited.
There was no physician available to attend to me and it is therefore untrue that physicians were detailed to await my arrival. After a long wait, I asked the EMS personnel if they could remind in-take that I was still there. I also asked them to inquire — in the event I was going to be admitted and kept overnight — whether it would be possible to get a private room. There was no demand made. I believe this is a reasonable request that anyone being admitted to the hospital could make, especially in light of Covid19. At no time did I refuse to be seen by ER doctors.
I sat in a wheelchair in the hallway, unattended, for at least 20 to 25 minutes. To say I was there for only six (6) minutes is not truthful.
No one came even to take my temperature and blood pressure. While the Minister and his MSJMC surrogates would like to doctor the time of my arrival and the length of time I remained there, I do not want anyone to lose their job and so I will refrain from naming those who confirm that I was in fact there for over 20 minutes.
It was only after it became clear that no one was going to attend to me that I became frustrated, raised my voice and asked to be taken elsewhere. At no time while at the hospital did I verbally abuse anyone — I was in pain and it was difficult to breathe.
It is a blatant lie to say the private medical facility was not willing to take me. I spent two hours at the private medical facility being treated by nurses there. It was at my request that I returned to MSJMC, given that the doctor at the private facility had already left for the day when I arrived there and the nurses could not have ordered any tests. Based on the condition I was in, I needed to see a doctor.
It is downright inhumane and extremely cruel for comrades of the political party in which I serve to be so hell bent on besmirching my character. The press statement defaming, ridiculing and dehumanizing me was released to dominate all media platforms at a time when I was seriously ill, in bed under Doctor’s instructions and literally fighting for my life. How unkind! How heartless!
The inexplicable, brutal war of the ABLP leadership on Asot Michael has gone too far. I am sick to my stomach with it and totally fed up. It must stop. After all, we are all comrades and should treat each other as such. Ironically, the medical personnel who attended to me on my return to MSJMC were all extremely professional, kind and most caring. They epitomized the health care professionalism that will ensure that the reputation of MSJMC in service to the state is beyond question.
I would like to thank and extend my sincere gratitude to all the doctors, the nurses and technicians who cared for me in my hour of need. I shall not forget their kindness. The Health Minister owes an apology to the hundreds of Antiguans who complain daily about the inadequacies of the Emergency Room (ER) and the very long hours they have wait before receiving attention. He has his head in the clouds of stem cell research and breaking new medical grounds while he seems clueless about the basic fundamentals of proper health care for all.
Worse, he has his mind set on using every opportunity he can find (even life-threatening illness) to put Asot Michael under heavy manners in the interest of carrying out the wish of the top brass of the ABLP to get rid of the Party’s St Peters representative at all cost. It will not work. I want to thank the hundreds of persons who have called, sent get well messages and offered prayers for my full and speedy recovery. I thank the almighty for seeing me through this most unfortunate ordeal.