We, like the rest of the citizenry, were happy to record the historic successes of the first kidney transplants to be conducted at the Mount St John’s Medical Centre.
Our satisfaction stems from two quarters. The recipients and their families would be overjoyed to know that beneficiaries of the organ now have a new lease on life. As one of the doctors who participated in the exercise noted, the gift of a kidney is a gift of life.
The medic also observed that the way to be happy is to make others happy, and that there is no greater joy in life than to know that one’s selfless gift would breathe new life into another person who otherwise would have died, or whose quality of life would be seriously diminished.
Our gratification also arises from feedback from the citizenry as a whole. Again our collective heads would have lifted a bit higher and our hearts swollen that much bigger, when one of the lead doctors told our newsroom that a check was made with the hospital to ensure that it had all the necessary equipment, personnel and facilities up to par to support a transplant.
He noted that he had no qualms proceeding as he was confident all would go well. And so it did.
Our own Mount St John’s Medical Centre has written itself in the history books; it being the first hospital in the Eastern Caribbean to offer transplants, quite an accomplishment.
It got us to reflecting, however, on the Cancer Centre of the Eastern Caribbean, a stone’s throw from the hospital. When it opened its doors in 2015, with much pomp and ceremony, it was envisioned as the place where our neighbours would come when they had need of treatment for that dreadful disease.
It was supposed to make cancer treatment more affordable and accessible to nationals who otherwise would have had to find huge sums to access care and treatment outside the region.
Since then we have heard very little about the cancer centre. We cannot say what appears to be the issue, but we can only hope that whatever kinks there are in having the facility fully functional they will be ironed out and we will be regaled with stories of successful treatments.
Our Mount St John’s Medical Centre had an auspicious start. It stood for more than 10 years unfinished. It was one of the protagonists in a Commission of Inquiry which looked into shenanigans at the Medical Benefits Scheme. At the end of it all, huge injections of capital were needed to bring it to fruition in February 2009.
Since then, there has been a litany of complaints about its operation and there has been a change of the management company which had the contract to manage the facility. Still and all, people of a certain age know it is a far cry from Holberton Hospital, and we can be justly proud that we have a first-class facility, albeit not always operating as such, but nevertheless striving to be world class.
The decision to prioritise Mount St John’s was a wise one indeed. We run the risk of being labelled political, by noting that the decisions that governments make have far-reaching consequences for the people whose lives they have sworn to make their lives better.
We understand that Mount St John’s is a work in progress. We heard the medical director speak of the gains he has accomplished and the ways he still has to go to make the hospital a smooth-running machinery. We are privy to all the times the nurses were not paid in a timely manner and the ultimatums they gave to get their just due.
We know, too, the loud complaints from patients who, when they need laboratory and other tests, are told there are no reagents or that the machinery has broken down, and we cannot say when it will be up and running.
Governments must at all times prioritise health care. Just ask the Americans who are fighting to retain insurance coverage so that they will be able to afford good health care.
Good health care is not a privilege; it is a right. We, the people, deserve no less.