Following a tragic car accident that claimed the lives of three young men on Long Island last weekend, Long Island MP Adrian Gibson urged officials to complete much-needed repairs to the two local clinics and address the response time of air ambulance services.
“We have all heard the complaints related to this tragedy,” he said in the House of Assembly on Wednesday.
“We have seen it in the newspapers and so on as it relates to medical challenges on the ground. I constantly say that Nassau is not The Bahamas.
“We live out on these islands on God’s grace. We are in desperate need of better healthcare services on Family Islands, not just for us, but for future generations to come.
“Although we do not live in the capital city, Nassau, we are Bahamians, and our lives matter, too.”
On Friday, Mandie Constantakis Jr., 20, Manoli Constantakis, 18, and Trevon Roxbury, 18, were on their way home around 9 p.m. when the car they were in collided with a house in the Mangrove Bush settlement.
Mandie Constantakis Jr. and Roxbury died at the scene, police said. But Manoli was still responsive. Jesse Knowles, a resident who was the first to the scene, said the local doctor took an hour to arrive and the medical flight to take Manoli to New Providence did not arrive until 1 a.m.
Manoli died in Doctors Hospital hours later.
Gibson said the morgue at Deadman’s Cay Clinic, which is not functioning, needs to be replaced, noting that it is “in a state of gross disrepair”.
He said repeated efforts to address the issues at the Deadman’s Cay morgue have been short-lived.
“We believe that this should be resolved pronto,” he said.
“As it stands, all persons who die in Long Island, their bodies must be transported to the north, to the Simms Community Clinic.
“So, you could imagine as of Friday past, seven bodies in a three-person morgue or facility.
“Imagine hearing stories of some bodies being placed on raised platforms, so that the morticians can come and quickly embalm just so that there would be space in the morgue.
“That is totally unacceptable. Imagine the emotional trauma of walking into such a scene, of families witnessing that as they bring bodies of loved ones.
“Imagine the emotional and mental toll on healthcare professionals.”
Gibson added, “The health professionals have to wedge something into the latch to keep it shut because the seal by the freezer door, the gasket, is not working as it should. And this is the case, I think, at both of the morgues. So, you should see the health professionals hammering pieces in.
“It is time greater attention and a more active role be played by the Ministry of Health with these morgues and their upkeep. They need to be checked and serviced on a regular basis.”
Gibson’s comments came after the families raised concerns over the amount of time it took for Manoli to be airlifted off the island.
The MP himself came under fire in the fallout of the incident with residents on the island questioning why all three of the victims were transported on sheets of plywood on the back of relatives’ pickup trucks when Gibson had announced the donation of an ambulance for the island in April 2021.
However, he said in the House that the vehicle still had to be outfitted and that work only “recently completed”.
“I am happy to know that the ambulance is on the island today (Wednesday),” he said.
“And next week, we will formally hand it over to the Simms Clinic.”
Gibson said much is lacking at the clinics, from simple medical supplies, like neck braces and stretchers, to an x-ray machine.
He also noted that there are staffing issues that must be addressed to allow for workers to be on call around the clock, and requested that the Ministry of Health hire EMTs to be able to make proper use of the ambulance.
Gibson said $1 million was allocated in an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) loan finalized under the Minnis administration for upgrades to the Deadman’s Cay Clinic on Long Island.
He said that money is also meant to cover the cost of another ambulance.
“And not a dime has been spent yet,” Gibson said of the loan.
“The former minister and the Ministry of Health also stated at that time that the allocation also featured a brand new ambulance to be assigned to the Deadman’s Cay Clinic. We await those infrastructural repairs and that ambulance.
“…Our island is extremely long. This is a matter of life and death for us. This is a matter of great importance to us. We also await the promised repairs to the Simms Clinic, which was supposed to come from the Ministry of Health’s capital budget during this fiscal year.”
Gibson also called for the response time of air ambulances to arrive to be addressed.