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Sands assures adequate medical personnel in Abaco

Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands yesterday assured there are adequate medical personnel on Abaco after a member of an international non-governmental organization (NGO) on the ground criticized the government’s response to a fatal traffic accident on Monday.

In a Facebook post, Burke Bryant, president of Humanitarian Aid and Rescue Project (HARP), said there was only one licensed doctor on the island when the accident occurred.

Two people died and another two required critical medical care.

Bryant also said that an air ambulance took hours to arrive to airlift the survivors to Nassau.

“We made it happen but this is a complete failure of the government and/or the Ministry of Health,” he said.

“To be on an island with one doctor and no air support is catastrophic at best. This puts all NGO workers and volunteers at risk as well.”

However, Sands said that was not true.

“The post made a number of allegations which were just not correct,” he said outside Cabinet.

“First of all, the allegation was that there was only one doctor in Abaco. I would have given the names of the five physicians that are posted throughout Abaco inclusive of the number of NGO-posted physicians and Department of Public Health physicians.

“There are five plus physicians providing health services in Abaco. Now, that said, I think that it is important not to shoot the messenger, but to listen to the message to try to understand how it is that things can be done better.

“And certainly, I think that we need to pay attention to the fact that speed kills. So, to have two vehicles involved in a head-on collision at a high rate of speed that results in the deaths of two people in one car is certainly something that is a horrible tragedy and a preventable tragedy.

“That said, if we look at the management of the tragedy after the event, we are reasonably satisfied with the responsiveness of the air evacuation team to mobilize a fixed wing aircraft to get to Abaco and then to get to Cooper’s Town in order to evacuate the remaining victims, who as I understand at my last report are stable in hospital.

“So, again, it’s not a matter of being critical of anybody who says that things can be done better. What we try to do is to look at the suggestions being made and to act on them if they are going to improve the care that’s delivered in any environment, but in particular in Abaco and Grand Bahama.”

Sands said that while there have never been critical care services on Abaco, the government is currently in talks with the University of Miami to remedy the matter.

“The operating room in the major facility in Abaco has never been used,” he said.

“We have now begun the process of negotiating a memorandum of understanding with the University of Miami in order to provide surgical services in Abaco for the first time in history, and we believe that that will do wonders to improve the quality of care that’s provided in Abaco.

“I meet with the University of Miami team on November 1st. I … met with the dean of the medical school and the chairman of the board and we are looking forward to a collaborative effort in order to improve the quality of the care delivered, not only in Abaco but in Grand Bahama.”

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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