Last update: 05-Dec-2013 8:03 am
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Fuad vex over missing machine so Private security guards face axe
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan is now scrutinising contracts with private security firms at hospitals after the theft of a $500,000 ultrasound machine from the San Fernando General Hospital. A rumour circulated last night that the machine had been returned and was found in a room near the main operating theatre but chairman of the South West Regional Health Authority Dr Lackram Bodoe said that was not true. The portable machine went missing on August 9 and an investigation is underway. Everyone who worked in the department has been quizzed by police and internal security officers.
Contacted by phone yesterday, Khan said: “Somebody still has to be held accountable. Machines don’t just disappear on their own. “Someone would have seen that movement and I am asking the chairman of the board to make investigations immediately. I am taking this very seriously. Something of this nature cannot be pilfered.” He added: “We are also looking at taking back the contract from private firms and allowing public security personnel to man the hospitals.” He said the National Maintenance Training and Security Company (MTS) was doing a good job but private security also had been hired. Khan also said he was considering global positioning tracking systems (GPS) and radio frequency identification devices (RFID), which are tags with bar codes connected to a system which would track all hospital machinery.
Former chair of the Public Service Association, Merlyn Barrow, is not satisfied with security arrangements to protect the equipment at the hospital. “We have been getting a lot of complaints about this. As the former chairperson of the PSA, I am concerned about the ultrasound machine that went missing. “So much was put in place for security under Terrence Julies (former head of security). We even had CCTV cameras in place and it is really very disheartening to hear that this valuable machine has gone missing,” Barrow said in a telephone interview. “Something is wrong somewhere. People are depriving the public and the taxpayers. Somebody must answer,” he added.
But a medical source, who requested anonymity, said the security guards should not be held accountable for the theft. “It is easy to carry away the ultrasound machine by dismantling it and carrying it away piece-by-piece. The hospital guards will be none the wiser,” the source said. He added that the police and the ministry should go to every private medical institution in T&T to search for the machine. “People no longer have any integrity. That machine is probably sitting down somewhere in somebody’s nursing home,” he added. Acting CEO of the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) Dr Shivanan Gopeesingh said Innovative Security Technologies was responsible for securing the hospital. Managing director of the security agency, Pete Carrington, said he did not want to comment until the police had completed investigations. Manager of security services at the SWRHA, Steve Lezama, also preferred not to comment.
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