Category Archives: News

‘PMH in crisis’

Prime Minister Philip Davis said on Saturday Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) is in “crisis” and pledged that his administration will do all it can to fix it.

Davis spoke on the conditions at PMH following a tour of the facility where hospital officials showed him several wards that are currently undergoing renovations.

Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) Managing Director Aubynette Rolle, who accompanied Davis, agreed.

“It’s a crisis,” Rolle said.

“It’s at a point where we need action and that is exactly what we are doing now.

“A few of the things that we are dealing with now, in terms of infrastructure, have been there for a while but we failed to move forward and have them done.

“But it’s one level of pandemic after the other. Right now, you see it happening with another level of pandemic, which is the sick population.”

Due to the renovations, the hospital lost 51 beds and is currently, via an agreement, forwarding stabilized patients to Doctors Hospital West.

Following the tour, Davis said it was “heart-wrenching” to see the state of the facility.

“But, we will fix it,” he pledged. “We are fixing it.”

He said, “What we see here are not challenges but, truly, crises. I indicated then that we have a health crisis.

“A part of that crisis was exacerbated by the COVID pandemic, which exposed the infrastructural challenges we have that required immediate attention.”

The tour ended in the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department where tight corridors were filled with patients on gurneys or waiting in chairs.

Davis, who was accompanied by Rolle, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Michael Darville, and PMH Hospital Administrator Mary Walker, among others, stopped to speak with patients.

The crowded pathways could barely accommodate the full entourage.

One man, who was on a gurney in the hallway with wounds to his legs, held his head. A doctor approached him and asked, “How are you? How did you get these? Are these from an accident?”

The man whispered, “Yes.”

Other patients hid their faces or stared at the shuffling officials.

Some slept. One man had a blanket covering him as he snoozed on a gurney.

As officials moved through the old A&E, they turned a corner into the Critical Care Block and it appeared as if the tour had moved into another facility.

One woman, who saw the prime minister, began praying. She stood near the wall, lifted her hand up and closed her eyes.

At the entrance of the Critical Care Block, there were more people waiting, some were patients getting medical attention.

Second pandemic

Darville said The Bahamas is experiencing a second pandemic.

“… Many individuals who suffer from chronic non-communicable diseases are now showing up at our tertiary facility,” he said.

“We are working very diligently to solve that problem while we are still in tight spaces and eventually these hiccups that we are currently experiencing in the healthcare system will be resolved and we will be able to function more effectively in tertiary as well as primary healthcare.”

As of Saturday, PMH had around 356 patients, Rolle said.

“Not all of those patients [are] in physical beds on the ward, but really being in that virtual space,” she said.

“That is where the levels of concern are because that is really in the corridor, in emergency rooms, in the chapels, sitting in chairs because that is what we are seeing.

“Doctors Hospital is taking our patients under our contractual agreement, however, they have to be more stabilized patients.

“As I expressed previously, what we are now seeing is unstable patients that really have to remain here for closer observation.”

Dr. Caroline Burnett-Garraway, PMH medical chief of staff, said the hospital is seeing increases in diabetic cases, hypertensive emergencies, heart attacks, strokes and pneumonia in elderly people.

“And of course, we have our trauma patients, so the assaults, the gunshot wounds that continue to challenge us from New Providence and the Family Islands,” she said.

There is also an increase in new COVID cases, Burnett-Garraway added.

“So, our COVID unit is actually full right now,” she said.

Elective surgeries remain on hold, she noted, because of the bed shortage.

“So, neurological surgery, and eye surgery is being offered, but at a limited amount,” she said.

“So, definitely, we are dealing with all of the emergencies that are coming in.

“We don’t turn them away. We see everyone. We try and stabilize the emergencies and we have to try and rebook them and give them a new date.”

Work is happening on a set of modular units on the grounds of the hospital, the basement of the Eye Ward, Male Medical II, Female Surgical I and A&E.

Darville said he is hopeful that renovations will be completed in another five weeks.

He said renovations are also occurring at Rand Memorial Hospital on Grand Bahama and at clinics throughout the country.

The prime minister’s tour of PMH came just over a week after Kenise Darville, a mother of three, died at the facility after broadcasting live on Facebook that she was being severely neglected by healthcare workers there.

Fernander: Matter involving Coleby-Davis is closed

The investigation into claims that Minister of Transport and Housing JoBeth Coleby-Davis hit a police officer with her car last year has been closed due to insufficient evidence, according to Police Commissioner Clayton Fernander.

Fernander said “investigators in our legal team” viewed the file and made that determination.

“So, that matter is closed,” he said.

Last May, Police Staff Association Executive Chairman Ricardo Walkes said an officer was assaulted by a female driver during a carnival event.

Walkes did not identify the alleged driver.

However, claims that Coleby-Davis was involved in an incident circulated on social media.

When asked about the claims at the time, Coleby-Davis said, “That is not my character. I had my three-year-old daughter with me on Saturday, so I would never act out in her presence.

“Even if that was my character, I would not. That’s not my personality and I would not do that in the presence of my three-year-old daughter. So, it’s untrue.”

Asked on Friday about the officer who made the claims, Fernander said, “I’m not going to go into details with that. That officer, I’ve spoken to him and he will be to work.

“… We deal with facts and evidence. That’s what we deal with and that’s what you need to go to court.”

He added, “I don’t wish to get into any tangle. We don’t investigate in the media. We need facts and evidence to go before the court. Other than that, the magistrate and the judge will say, ‘man, y’all go from here. There’s no evidence to connect it.’”

Fernander said, “As investigators, you go into it with an open mind and as you get the facts, it’s like a puzzle. As you get the facts, you put a piece here. 

“You investigate and you go and you get that. It’s not just a slam dunk. You go out there and you investigate.”

He said once investigators do what they’re supposed to, they will eventually get the full picture.

Murders, robberies, sex crimes all up

Though overall serious crimes decreased by two percent throughout The Bahamas last year, crimes against the person increased by 23 percent, driven by a rise in murders, sex crimes and armed robberies, Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander reported on Friday.

There were 128 murders, an eight percent increase over 2021.

Fernander said 113 of the murders took place on New Providence, eight on Grand Bahama, four on Abaco, one on Andros, one on Eleuthera and one on Exuma.

Two of the victims were foreigners.

Police reported that they solved 86 of these murders (69 percent detection).

“Based on our investigations in these matters, 35 suspects [who] were on bail committed murders,” Fernander said.

Thirty-four victims were killed while on bail; 30 victims were being electronically monitored; 46 victims were known to police.

Firearms were used in most of the cases with the key motives being retaliation, gang violence and conflict, Fernander said.

“We want to prevent these matters from happening, and so we will continue to be present out there, but that is significant, that 69 percent [detection] rate,” he said.

“If the matter happens, we are on [it] and to be able to bring swift closure to these matters.”

Police reported 555 armed robberies, a 34 percent increase over 2021.

Fourteen involved tourists. Eighty-one percent of victims were males and 74 percent of them were under 45.

Firearms were used in 96 percent of the incidents, all suspects were males and 97 percent were under 45.

There were 55 rapes reported, a 15 percent increase over 2021.

Eight victims were tourists.

The majority of the reported rapes occurred at residences.

Thirty-nine percent of the alleged victims knew their reported assailant.

There were also 139 reported cases of unlawful sex, an 11 percent increase over 2021.

Ninety percent of the alleged victims knew their reported assailant. Sixty-one percent of alleged victims were between ages 14 and 16.

Fernander appealed to parents and guardians to monitor children on social media.

He also sent a “strong message” to men who continue to prey on minors.

“Stop now,” Fernander warned. “Stop now. If you do [continue], we will find you and you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. That is a no-no.”

Police reported that they confiscated 370 illegal firearms, 5,506 rounds of ammunition, and made 190 arrests in 2022.

Lanisha Rolle matter ‘very much active’, police chief says

Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander said Friday a police matter involving former Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Lanisha Rolle is “very much active”, though he did not give any details about what the matter entailed.

“At this stage with Lanisha Rolle, that matter is very much active, very much active,” said Fernander when asked for an update.

He told reporters earlier this month that Rolle and her husband were being questioned by police, but declined to say why.

Last November, following reports that police were investigating her, Rolle said, “justice will prevail”.

“I stand by my record that as minister, as far as I am aware, all proper procedures were followed, as far as I was aware as minister,” said Rolle, who resigned from the Minnis Cabinet in 2021.

“A minister does not know everything in a ministry at any given time. So, to the best of my knowledge, everything, as it relates to me, there were protocols, there were persons in places who should have followed protocols and I believe that they did.

“Where they did not, whatever investigations or inquiries will reveal whatever process was or was not followed.”

She added, “I certainly believe that in due time, the truth will be exposed. I have resigned from Cabinet from February 23, 2021, and since then, we are here today.

“I recall the last official report, the audit report disclosed to my information that the accounts of Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture were fairly maintained.

“I did not hear that another audit or any further investigation was going on and so we are where we are today.”

Boy, 15, carried high-powered weapon onto school campus, Fernander says

A 15-year-old carried a high-powered weapon onto a school campus two weeks ago after he had an altercation with another student, Police Commissioner Clayton Fernander said.

“The young man is still in school,” Fernander told reporters at Police Headquarters in Nassau on Friday.

“He appeared to be very angry for whatever reason. We are paying attention to this because he returned. He had some altercation with another student and he returned with that firearm.

“Thank God that student was not still hanging around in the yard because we could have had maybe even a mass shooting, and I pray the devil away that that will never happen here in this country.”

Fernander said an off-duty officer followed the teen, who was arrested.

He said police have asked the Department of Social Services to investigate to determine what is happening in the teen’s home.

“How is it that he is able to put his hands on a high-powered rifle and his intention is to go and kill someone?” Fernander asked.

“I gave them (police officers) instructions. They carried it out and we found out other kids live in that house.

“There’s only one parent, that’s the mother. The father is nowhere to be found and social services, right now, as we speak, is working along with that family to try to assist and move that child from a life of crime and try and steer him in the right direction.”

The police commissioner said there was an increase in the use of high-powered weapons last year.

A total of 370 firearms were confiscated in 2022 – 280 pistols, 22 revolvers, 38 high-powered rifles and 30 shotguns, Fernander said.

Govt seeking funding for new hospital on New Providence

The government is seeking to source funding for a new hospital for New Providence that will be focused on maternity, pediatric and adolescent care, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Michael Darville said.

“I am pleased to report that the feasibility study for the hospital here in New Providence is completed,” Darville said on Saturday.

“That, along with the dip note, is now forwarded where we are seeking in the international community for the funding.

“That particular hospital, based on the planners, will be a specialty hospital focusing on maternity care, adolescents and pediatric care.

“There will be a reference lab. There will be a national morgue and there will be expanded diagnostic services.

“I will unveil to the press very shortly our planned structure for that facility because it will be in two phases.

“The first phase will be the specialty hospital and the second phase, that we possibly won’t get to in this term in office, will be a second campus that will reflect the services that happen here at Princess Margaret Hospital.”

Darville also noted that work on a new $201 million hospital for Grand Bahama is gearing up.

“I am pleased to report to the media that the hospital for Grand Bahama that is being led by The Beck Group is in its advanced stages and we are now finalizing the topographic studies and the geotechnical studies on the new piece of property that is now confirmed for the construction of that facility in Grand Bahama,” he said.

“Our medical planners have clearly indicated that on completion of that hospital, we plan not to have two campuses.

“The hospital at the Rand Memorial Hospital will go down to a secondary facility where we will provide geriatric care as well as psychiatric care.”

He said construction will be in two phases.

“Phase one will produce urgent care and about 42 beds and the second phase will produce the balance of the beds, which will be a multistory complex,” he said.

Police adding trucks to fleet as they boost patrols

The Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) will add 100 trucks and 50 motorcycles to its fleet as it looks to “upgrade and improve” its saturation patrols in its fight against violent crime, Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander said on Friday.

Fernander said the first trucks will be on the ground as early as next week.

“By mid-February, this will be in full swing,” he said of the increased patrols.

In addition to increasing patrols, Fernander said police will continue to target prolific offenders and wanted persons, carry out covert operations and take a more serious approach to policing minor crimes.

“There will be a zero [tolerance] approach to these minor crimes to avoid [these crimes escalating] and we fell down a lot with these same minor crimes where names are [being called] and we don’t pay attention and then it escalates to something different, and so it’s going to be a zero tolerance with respect to minor crimes,” he said.

As it relates to saturation patrols, Fernander said police have done their homework.

“We have already analyzed, we know where our hot spots are,” he said.

The new vehicles will be outfitted with GPS systems and will be monitored in the real-time crime center to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the saturation program, according to the commissioner.

Asked the cost of the new trucks, Fernander said, “It’s in the millions. You can’t put a price tag on security.

“If you want to protect your citizens, make it happen. I told them just sign the check and I’ll fill in the blanks because we are identifying the equipment … sign the check and we’ll fill in the blacks. It’s high in the millions.”

When asked yesterday if all of the trucks will be used on New Providence, a police spokesperson said the commissioner has not yet given any indication as to how the trucks will be distributed.

Recruits

On Friday, Fernander also said the force intends to boost its numbers.

He said 20 recruits began their training on Grand Bahama and 100 on New Providence on Friday.

Recruits from the Turks and Caicos Islands will also be trained on Grand Bahama.

Additionally, the commissioner said, the force has added 100 reserve officers.

Fernander reported serious crimes decreased by two percent nationwide in 2022.

Crimes against the person increased by 23 percent, however.

Fernander said this is due to the uptick in murders, sex crimes and armed robberies.

Murders increased by eight percent, rapes increased by 15 percent, unlawful sex increased by 11 percent and armed robberies increased by 34 percent.

Property crimes decreased by nine percent due to a drop in house break-ins and stealing.

A total of 370 firearms were confiscated last year, including high-powered rifles.

Once again, last year, the vast amount of serious crimes took place on New Providence.

Fernander was asked on Friday whether police are doing enough to address the high level of violent crime.

“It’s just not the police,” he responded. “We are doing our part. There’s a number of other stakeholders that need to step up their game as well.

“We will continue to do our part and work with those other stakeholders to ensure that it happens, and the strategies are working.

“We have taken a number of persons off the streets. It’s clear, every day, you are seeing individuals being arrested. Look at the amount of firearms.”

Pointing to the weapons police had laid out at a press conference, the commissioner added, “This is just a portion of them, that we have taken off the streets, and we are charging individuals.

“Look at the results and the detection rate. Look at those numbers. We continue to do just that. It’s bigger than just the police force.

“And I love to just stay in my lane, but some other persons, that same question needs to be posed to them. Other areas need to step up their game.

“And I believe that we are doing an excellent job. We will continue to press on and take it to another level.”

Officials say concerns about care at PMH being heard

Acknowledging that “elements of possible malpractice” occur in the public health system, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Michael Darville said on Saturday officials are doing everything to minimize that and improve service.

Darville, who spoke following a tour of Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), was asked about concerns raised in recent weeks by some over allegations of negligence at the hospital.

“You know, allegations on the delivery of healthcare services is something that is age old,” he said.

“[In] every facility throughout the world, there are elements of possible malpractice and the legal parameters associated with it.

“I cannot point to one hospital anywhere that I’ve been involved in where these allegations have not been brought forth …

“There is a system that is in place, a legal system that is tied in with the Public Hospitals Authority legal system. Any person who feels as if there is an element of malpractice, they have a right to seek legal advice.

“While that is happening, it is our responsibility to minimize those allegations by improving our customer service relations, by putting advocates in place, so that loved ones can constantly be in contact with their loved ones who are on the ward, and any aspect as it relates to malpractice can be brought to the forefront.

“I can assure you, the Public Hospitals Authority, the Ministry of Health and Wellness, we are an open book. We definitely have elements of possible malpractice. You can see it. It happens in the court system.

“But while that is happening, it is our responsibility to improve the service and ensure that we minimize that.”

The issue of negligence was raised after the death of Kenise Darville, a mother of three, who, in a live broadcast from her hospital bed on social media on January 11, pleaded for urgent blood donations.

In her live video, she alleged that she had been neglected at PMH.

Darville’s relatives held a press conference on January 20 where her husband, Jerad Darville, said, “You should never have to be dying and trying to find blood.

“On her dying bed, you ask her to find blood. Where was she to go? Oh, my Lord, be fair. Where was she to go for help?”

Darville ordered an investigation into her death.

There was an outpouring of sympathy on social media after her death with many sharing their experiences at the hospital.

In response to the complaints, Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) Managing Director Aubynette Rolle said, “We are hearing you.”

She said, “I also wanted to address the complaints that we are also hearing is about the lack of respect and compassion for people.

“We take that seriously. So, we are working on that with customer service training.

“We are working to ensure that we are training more patient advocates who will be to the forefront, on the wards, who will be that intermediary to have that conversation between the clinician, family members and loved ones.

“We are hearing you. We are not only picking up one thing, we are hearing you and we are moving forward.”

She said patients with concerns can reach out to the hospital’s client feedback line at 825-3438.

Lawyer assigned to marshal police shooting inquests

A lawyer from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has been assigned to the Coroner’s Court, paving the way for inquests into police-involved killings to resume, The Nassau Guardian can reveal.

The appointment comes weeks after Chief Justice Sir Ian Winder implored the director of public prosecutions to address the issue, so that the Coroner’s Court could “properly fulfill its mandate in respect to all deaths”.

The new marshal was introduced to Acting Coroner Kara Turnquest-Deveaux last week.

The court resumed inquests into other suspicious deaths in 2021 following a hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, inquiries into police-involved deaths remained in limbo due to a lack of a lawyer to present the evidence. Police officers generally marshal the evidence in other inquests.

However, there is still no dedicated coroner since former Coroner Jeanine Weech-Gomez was appointed as a Supreme Court judge in 2021. The acting coroner’s other duties include presiding over the Juvenile Court and traveling to Eleuthera to hear cases.

According to Winder, it is hoped that the Judicial and Legal Services Commission will permanently fill the post soon.

The court completed 35 police-involved inquests from 2003 through February 2020.

Jurors returned 20 lawful killing verdicts and six unlawful killing verdicts during that period, according to data from the Coroner’s Court.

Meanwhile, jurors could not reach a decision in five cases, returned self-defense verdicts in two cases, found justifiable homicide in one case, and an accidental verdict in another.

An inquest does not determine civil or criminal liability but examines the circumstances of a person’s death. Additionally, the Coroner’s Court does not have a team of independent investigators.

An inquest is not held in cases where there is clear cut evidence of a crime.

Prosecutors did not hold an inquest after the 2007 fatal shooting of Aschol Deon Rolle by Officer Aubrey Carlston Darling. Instead, he was charged with manslaughter and convicted of the offense in 2017 and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.

Last year, prosecutors charged officers Archibald Miller Jr., Thomas Thurston Jr. and Lee Dormeus with murder concerning the November 13, 2021 shooting death of Danrico Carey in Nassau Village. Officer Kevin Greenslade faces a charge of causing dangerous harm in respect to the same incident.

On Friday, Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander said there were 16 police-involved shootings in 2022. He said 10 of those shootings were fatal.

There were 20 police-involved shootings in 2021.

New work permits for Haitians on hold

Given the economic, political and security crises ensnaring Haiti, the government of The Bahamas has announced that no new work permit applications for Haitian citizens will be processed until such time as revised protocols are introduced to verify and authenticate documents issued by the Haitian government and the Haitian National Police.

At a press conference on Friday, Immigration Minister Keith Bell also announced that new and existing permit to reside applications for Haitian citizens will only be considered on a case-by-case basis and approvals will only be granted in the most exceptional circumstances.

Bell said all existing work permit applications and renewals for work permits will be subjected to the most vigorous review and scrutiny.

Applicants should note that as a consequence, the time frame for the processing and determination of such applications will be impacted, he said.

On Thursday, The Miami Herald reported that the killing of six police officers in an armed attack against a police substation resulted in armed men claiming to be police revolting in the streets, scouring the premises of Port-au-Prince’s international airport and the police headquarters searching for the country’s prime minister, Ariel Henry.

Bahamian Prime Minister Philip Davis ordered an immediate involuntary departure from Haiti of all Bahamian diplomatic personnel that same day.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed on Friday that all seven Bahamian diplomats, including the spouse of the chargé d’ affaires, were airlifted out of Port-au-Prince by helicopter and landed in the Dominican Republic.

Bell announced the Department of Immigration’s policy adjustment in light of the worsening situation in Haiti.

He said The Bahamas maintains a strict regulatory framework for the review and processing of all immigration applications.

This process requires each applicant to produce various reports and certifications from their home countries.

A key report is a character certificate from local police authorities to confirm any criminal history of an applicant.

Bell noted that in many instances, the department may require applicants to attend the Bahamian embassy or consulate in the applicant’s home country when immigration officials require enhanced verification.

“The government of The Bahamas is resolute in its commitment to protect its borders and enforce its immigration laws,” he said.