Minister joins public disapproval of new parking rules at hospital

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The Minister of Information, Broadcasting, Telecommunications & Information Technology, Melford Nicholas, joined with members of the public and expressed his disapproval of the new proposed parking measures at the Mount St. Johns Medical Center (MSJMC).

In a recent press release, the MSJMC highlighted a number of changes to the patient and visitor parking and the reserved and staff parking.

It informed the public that its western parking lot overlooking the Ramco Building and other spaces leading to the hospital’s main gate will remain open for visitors, and spaces would be available on a first-come-first served basis, but the northern lots facing the Cancer Centre would be reserved for staff only.

Meantime, the southern lot overlooking the Antigua Home and Garden Discount Center would be reserved for select hospital officials and also as a loading and unloading dock, while reserved parking for the disabled, doctors and taxi drivers would remain reserved, as the institution was determined to ensure that disabled and sick people were not denied access.

On Wednesday, an individual who utilizes the services of the hospital’s outpatient clinic for diagnostic purposes, shared her frustrations with this newsroom: “They need to realize that all persons using the hospital are not only bedridden patients and staff, but ambulatory patients and family members coming to the hospital as caregivers.

“What is the brilliant plan? Rearranging outpatient frustration? If 250 workers drive and there are 170 spots, and given that all 250 don’t work at the same time, what is this new capacity for outpatients that this shuffling creates?”

Nicholas shared the same sentiments as the female patient, stating during the post-Cabinet briefing yesterday that “good judgement and common sense must prevail.

“I think what may be absent from the discussion so far, and again, I say this with the ultimate amount of respect for the [MSJMC] Board, that the patients and the caregivers and the persons who would want to accompany their loved ones or to make a visit to their loved ones at the institution, their interest and comfort must be of paramount interest as well.

“Clearly, we cannot deliver health care without the support of the staff and so if there is inadequacy with the facility to satisfy all those requirements, then I think what the Board must now do is present a case for improvement and expansion of parking facilities; but I think to subordinate and subjugate the public is going to prove problematic,” Nicholas said.

He revealed that Cabinet has asked the Minister of Health, Molwyn Joseph, to hold discussions with the Board with a view to changing the policy which, according to reports, was put into effect during Joseph’s absence from the state and he was totally unaware of it. 

“The Cabinet has asked the Minister to ask the Board to reconsider their position. We have seen a press release that came out from a senior member of the administration at the MSJMC, Ms. Salma Crump, which seeks to nullify some of the public’s concerns; but I think to the extent to the parking of the staff taking precedence over parking of patients is going to be problematic.

“I think if there is going to be a requirement for more accommodations for the staff and their comfort, I think we would like to engage the management and the Board of the Mount St. John’s hospital to see whether or not we can get Public Works…I think the adjacent land to the facility is currently being enclosed and that could be developed to ensure that all of the interests could be taken care of,” Nicholas added.

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