AIDS camp owes BEC $78,000
State Minister for Social Development Loretta Butler-Turner told The Nassau Guardian yesterday that the ministry cannot pay the $78,000 light bill that has been accumulated by the All Saints Camp where HIV/AIDS patients are housed.
The camp’s electricity has been off for a month now.
Butler-Turner said the ministry could help the individuals at the camp personally, but noted that Social Services workers had been chased from the Lazaretto Road property the last several times they attempted to visit.
She noted the ministry also writes into its yearly budget a grant for the camp.
“We have been barred from the property,” said Butler-Turner.
The camp’s administrator, Diana Ingraham, denied that ministry workers had been chased off the property. She said the workers were there recently to photograph the property.
Ingraham said that when the electricity was disconnected she approached the Department of Social Services for help that day but had not heard from anyone since.
“I didn’t ask Social Services to pay it (electricity bill) off,” Ingraham said.”I just wanted some of the funds because BEC (Bahamas Electricity Corporation) said they needed $30,000 to $40,000.”
Ingraham said she was not blaming the ministry for the camp’s inability to pay the bill, but was simply asking for help.
Butler-Turner said yesterday that her ministry had been attempting to meet with the principals of the camp but were refused a meeting.
She said that since the death of Glenroy Nottage, who once ran the facility, his brother Kendal Nottage became the chief proprietor.
“Over the years since 2007, since we have been there, my Ministry of Labour and Social Development has been reaching out to this camp through various mechanisms–directly from our ministry and from a group of civic society women who had been going there and helping,” Butler-Turner said.
“The ministry tried to have meetings with the Honorable B J Nottage (MP for Bain Town and Grants Town) and the Honorable Kendal Nottage, whose brother died, and neither of them would meet with our ministry.”
When The Nassau Guardian attempted to contact Kendal Nottage he was out of town, and Dr. Nottage, while in front of the House of Assembly yesterday refused to talk about the situation.
Ingraham said the camp was in dire need of getting its electricity reconnected, as many of the patients there are bed-ridden and prone to bed sores if they lay in persistent heat. She noted that others have medication that needs refrigeration.
“Some of them have HIV, cancer and diabetes and they need their insulin to be cooled,” she said. “Right now we have it on ice.”
The minister of state with responsibility for BEC, Phenton Neymour, said they are looking at what can be done to help the camp. He said BEC had worked for years to help the camp keep its electricity on.
He said the bill simply became too high and BEC had to take action.
“BEC recognizes the fact that AIDS is a very difficult illness to deal with in our society,” he said.
“BEC has also worked with other institutions who have worked with (the camp) financially to try to reduce that bill. It has accumulated over the years, and so BEC has had to take some action.”
Ingraham said the bill may have been accumulating prior to Glenroy Nottage’s death five years ago. She is now asking the public to donate funds to help the camp get its electricity re-connected.