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STREET VIBES: Dying like dogs; doesn’t T&T deserve better than this Hell Care system?

If you happen to be one of the few who still don’t acknowledge the role social media play in today’s world, you are one of the lucky citizens of this nation who did not look on helplessly as yet another one of us was treated with the official contempt and disdain to which we have all now become accustomed.

This time, the victim was Christopher Phillip, an 80-year-old man or, as the Minister of Health (MoH) would have it, a 62-year-old citizen of this land, who, abandoned to his own devices within the compound of the Port-of-Spain General Hospital, indeed, in the immediate vicinity of the Hospital’s Accident and the Emergency Department, “died like a dog.”

Photo: The dead body of Christopher Phillips outside the Port of Spain General Hospital admin building.

Although there is not very much that can be considered shocking in this land of ours anymore, the video footage shocked a few, offended many and sparked widespread outrage.

I suppose that, in his own way, the deceased elderly gentleman would have worked hard and contributed to the building of this nation. But the Health Minister didn’t think it necessary to ascertain whether this was so. In fact, he seemed to have made little effort to find out what were the facts of the matter.

The Ministry hastened to express condolences to Phillip’s family. But of what comfort was that when, not surprisingly, the blame was quickly placed squarely on the shoulders of the deceased? Phillip, some say, was unable to walk; Phillip, said the Ministry, “discharged himself.”

Mr Minister gave the impression that being “only 62” makes Mr Phillip’s death much more acceptable than if he was indeed 80. Thanks, Terry, for clearing that up.

Those in authority, many with lofty, important-sounding titles, launched the now ritual calls for a “comprehensive investigation” into what I commonly refer to as the “Hell Care System.”

But ordinary, tax-paying citizens like me are already up to here with these calls for probes and investigations and commissions of inquiry; we have grown weary of these probes and investigations and commissions of inquiry which never accomplish anything and serve only to further fatten a pack of fat-cat lawyers who make careers out of filing briefs on behalf of the State.

Photo: UNC senator and attorney Gerald Ramdeen.
(Copyright CNC3)

A colleague of mine calculates, using allocation figures from the 2017 National Budget, that the health care system spends around $17M a day. What, this citizen asks, do we have to show for it?

What we don’t have to show for it, citizens who use the system know only too well, is adequate quantities of medication, sheets, toilet tissue, doctors, ambulances, etc.

Not to mention machinery, such as dialysis machines, that is in proper working order.

To whom do we turn when things go wrong, when absolutely nothing seems to be working as it should?  How do we explain what appears to be unparalleled levels of colossal incompetence? It is difficult to accept that the existing levels of massive incompetence could ever be achieved without systemic co-ordination,

Is it surprising, therefore, that some citizens offer the theory that this nation is “blighted”?

Sourcing foreign currency even in the modest quantities required for a brief vacation has never been as stressful. Booking a secure place on the sea bridge to Tobago and being confident about your arrival time is, frighteningly, now a lottery.

The lack of confidence in the Judiciary is terrifying to say the least. Despite massive rainfall in the past couple weeks, many taps remain dry as the WASA leadership remains blissfully unaware of the organisation’s primary function, which is delivering on successive administrations’ promise of “Water for all.” They seem to think that that has been supplanted by their newly assigned function of creating swimming pools and craters on the nations’ roadways.

Photo: President Anthony Carmona (centre) is flanked by Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar (left) and Chief Justice Ivor Archie.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

And, of course, there is the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS), far and away my favourite organization.

The police were in the news yet again recently in a way that caught my attention. The report was about two men charged with murder in 2006. One of the officers involved indicated that, in 2006, “he submitted DNA samples, including blood and hair samples and a cigarette butt, to the Forensics Science Complex.”  When he checked for the report, he was told that the “tests were not yet done.”

Here’s the clincher: he checked for the report on 1 June, 2017! Full 11 years after he submitted the samples!

But don’t be surprised if tomorrow, Prime Minister Keith Rowley tells the nation that 11 years for a DNA test to be completed is “unacceptable.”

The knowledge that a DNA test has still not been completed after more than a decade is no less painful than watching Mr Phillip writhing in agony on the POSGH’s lawn. But is there a connection between the two situations?

There is, a painfully obvious one; it has to do with our absent work ethic. While it is easy to blame governments past and present, “the government” doesn’t work in the hospital wards or on the ports. Nor does it dig up the roads or any place else for that matter in search of water.

Photo: The Penal Poet gives his take on WASA’s roadworks.

Let us be very clear about the function of government; I understand it very well, perhaps better than the Prime Minister, who told the nation not so long ago that “the government is not in the business of building schools.” That some fly-by-night lawyer could later parrot those lines as he attempted to blame the Opposition for bonfires that blocked the roads in Morvant clearly demonstrates his ignorance and underlines just how out of touch he and his Cabinet colleagues really are.

My fellow citizens, it is high time we reject as merely “unacceptable” an 11-year wait for a simple DNA test result. Because for as long as no one is held accountable, for as long as we continue to blame the victims, we shall continue to see our citizens dying like dogs across the length and breadth of this once blessed now blighted country.

Yesterday it was Christopher Phillips; which one of us it will be tomorrow is anyone’s guess.

About Rudy Chato Paul Sr

Rudy Chato Paul, Sr, is passionate about gardening, music and writing and boasts post-graduate certification in Anthropology, Criminology and Sociology. He also studied Theology, which is why he is actively seeking to make Trinidad a better place rather than waiting for divine intervention. 

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132 comments

  1. Nerisha, there’s a difference between marketing and sales. lol

  2. Just a reminder of what was promised

  3. Deyalsingh psychic, how he know who not to blame before the investigation even began?

    “Deyalsingh said no official at the NWRHA is to be blamed for Phillip’s death”

  4. Recently a certain minister went abroad for medical treatment I wonder y he didn’t go to our local hospital

  5. No shame minister of excuses

  6. I will never stop saying life is not fair..too much cruelty exists in this world

  7. What about the other people around?? A six minute video of a dying man and no one, employee or member of the public, attempted to take him back inside ? I’m sorry but the treatment in our public institutions is just a reflection of our larger society

  8. The doctors are not professionals, else they would have known was a dying man that was there.

  9. Once there is no accountability shit like this will continue to happen and that is why we need a Government that is capable of doing proper investigations and following through by disciplining. Policies at these institutions also need amending and improved training is also needed. This is why we need a capable Government

  10. govt regimes come and go and the problems continue to manifest . voting citizens need to ask themselves are they really getting value… it seem we are suffering from a chronic case of the stockholm syndrome. when would citizen challenge the government into demanding better governance ??? you can never expect the govt to fix the problems of the previous regime it is akin to asking cancer to cure itself .time to turn talk in action . for those who continue to sleep wake up!!! i suppose KFC have to closedown first before we take notice as it seems we still jamming to the music.

  11. did he have kids , relatives? so sad

  12. I wrote this the day he died:

    In light of this episode of Christopher Phillip dying on the front lawn of the General Hospital because he was “refused re-entry” to the hospital for possible treatment — security personnel following the letter of the law removed him from A&E — i am reminded of the incident from the 1990s when 12 persons died from food poisoning from eggnog at the St Ann’s Hospital. And no one was held responsible. I quote from Donna Yawching writing in 2002: “Remember, some years ago, the food-poisoning episode at St Ann’s Hospital, where numerous patients died? The very first words coming from the Health Minister at the time were not, ‘I’ll look into it immediately,’ but rather: ‘Don’t blame me, I’m new on the job.’ (I believe he is now, appropriately, the chairman of an RHA. Who’s to blame for that?) A lengthy commission of enquiry ensued, and as I recall, it eventually decided that no-one was to blame! From which one can only conclude that all those poor crazy people decided one night to commit mass suicide, by sheer force of will.

    “In another country, heads would have been rolling like bowling-balls; lawsuits would have lined up at the door; charges of criminal negligence would have been laid. But not here. Don’t blame us, the authorities said, all the way up the line from kitchen assistant to Cabinet Minister. And we, long accustomed to that song, chorused: ‘Okay, we won’t.’ The only people who might have protested were already dead.”

    I fear that a similar scenario may recur in this incident that throws light on an archaic health care system where the minister has to defend the indefensible, and sometimes does not. He hasn’t spoken yet, and probably won’t, passing all responsibility to the NWRHA. “THE staff at the Port of Spain General Hospital are saying they followed all protocols and did all it could…” It is inconceivable that people working in the hospital can forget the idea that they are to heal because of “protocols.”. The conflict of the NWRHA stating that “Mr Phillip then left on his own accord,” and the witnesses noting the security removed him to the lawn has to be resolved. We deserve better. The legacy of clerkship where the letter of the law supersedes the spirit of the law must be changed for the betterment of us, and not conformity to some acquired rule book.

    When the minister said what he said, I lost it. I won’t repeat the expletive-laden rant. This man believes anything that he reads from the NWRHA, even an incomplete report. To say that “he was treated twice” and yet Christopher Phillip still dies on the POSGH’s lawn, is to miss the big picture. Our health system is in shambles, and the king is blind.

  13. The minister knows PROTOCOL was followed via CCTV cameras in his office

  14. Where is his family????? How he reach to that condition.

  15. Most ppl are treated the same way when we visit the hospital. .doctor on the phone playing games. .no care for the sick
    ….The only difference is this man did not have a relative with him to stand up for him.

  16. Government come and go the health system stinks . I’m a PNM that won’t change but the health system needs to change. RIP Mr. Phillip.

  17. Don’t forget to add these same doctors, both local and imported can service you for quite a whopping figure in a timely manner at THEIR PRIVATE INSTITUTIONS using some of these same machinery and equipment that are in good working condition, and are not hesitant to refer you to such

  18. Hmm not just old ppl once u doh hv money n don’t no any body in hi places crapo smoke ur pipe

  19. So the minister was in thehospital when the man went in dont blame the hospital some of youll treat youll own mother and father like do why was he alone going to seek help why was any adult was with him if they love him so much so people dtop being a dam hypocrite youll do the same dam thing to them in there own blasted home just youll feel guilty so hush youll blasted mouth if youll love them so much why youll put them in homes and only going to see them when the pension check comes

  20. He is one of f voters bank and to hear dat asshole of aminister talk dat glib tells u we red and ready take dat in u pipe and smoke it to d grave great is d pnm lying taxing thiefing bitches dey worst dan dogs

  21. Dead man can’t talk. Steups.

  22. Exactly. He never showed any concern or empathy on the situation in which the man died. All he cared about was that the ministry wouldn’t take the blame. Heartless, soulless. Besides, was the woman who took the video recording interviewed, was her side of the story verified? No!!! So how can that investigation be concluded!!!

  23. People knows what happened. ..he went back for help and was put out cause he was bring deemed a nuisance…that is the norm…cause you are treated by some as though you begging when you go the public institutions….

  24. Wish we could look at this and implement something similar!

    • That won’t happen!! Name one public official in TT who behaves with that moral courage and direction

    • In all fairness, we see the mess that happens when people even think about standing up and speaking out.
      Ergo, birth of ‘if you can’t beat em, join em’.
      In the US, I can call names of people who stood up and were able to make a difference.
      I read at a company the way to treat with customer complaints-: acknowledge, apologize, act!
      It’s not complicated, but it takes all three steps to satisfy a customer.

    • To do this the both sides of the poltical fence have to agree. More than that the separation of powers in T&T staes t the Executive (Ministers) cannot address such issues in the pubic service. thta you think it is possible

    • so the questions arises “Who guarding the guards the Public Service Commission has jurisdiction over public servants but it is outdated and understaffed

  25. Well Mr. Phillip always say PNM till ah dead. ..so there you go he prevailed. ..thank god we get back we country

  26. Free health care–Trini style.

  27. Health system stinks! From poor doctors to poor nurses to substandard medication. We DEAD!

  28. Consider how many countries in the tropics apart from Singapore are first world; where the citizens enjoy Western European and above, standards of living. None outside of Singapore. Consider in Europe the highest standards of living happen to be in the northern colder and democratic countries. Ask yourself why is this.

  29. Some one has to be fired for this incident.

  30. Dead man cant tell the truth.

  31. This is how old people are treated when they seek medical care,the general attitude is,”nothing wrong with he or she,they miserable” shame on the Minister of Health ,even if the Old Man was miserable,he should ” err on the side of Grace” which means ,take the blame even if you not really to be blamed. Some of the people working in our health services “real hoggish” one day they will get old and be in need,I pray they do not suffer humiliation like that old man. May he rest in peace

    • I agree with you..old ppl are treated badly..even in the wards you hear they crying out for help. ..it’s the other patients come and lend assistance most of the time..

    • Since when the Minister of Health working in the Hospital???? We have become inhumane. When last the Minister of Health admit patients When??? Make sense. Is we tax money goes to the Staff!

  32. I couldnt have said it better. Trini gone through and the govt ministers (all) are so out of touch it is not even funny.

  33. “We are here today to call the Parliament to order. Every system of state is failing. The politics of tribalism is not working. The politics of divisiveness is not working. The politics of ‘we time now’ is not working, and we are here to tell the forty one elected servants of the people that this is not good enough. You were elected to office based on certain promises and certain expectations, and if you cannot deliver you must vacate.

    What took place outside of the nation’s hospital where a citizen was allowed to die like a stray animal without care or consideration at an institution HIS money paid for was the last straw.

    Open divisive tribal separationist politics is making a mess of the administration of justice. The police service is not working. The administration of justice is not working. Our education and health systems are not working. The price of food is outside of the reach of the average person while state owned farm land sits there idle, being stripped off and sold for shopping plazas and cineplexes.

    We are here to say to the government and the opposition get your act together.

    We are no longer interested in the politics of bacchanal. We are no longer interested in you using the people’s Parliament to distract the population with foolishness, ‘bussing marks’ that lead nowhere.

    More importantly, we are here today to tell the Attorney General and his leader the Prime Minister that no one voted you into office to restrict the people’s basic human rights. This Cybercrime Bill appears designed deliberately vague and open to interpretation so as to give politicians and governments sweeping powers to shut down free speech and dissent.

    We are here today to tell the Attorney General withdraw this Bill in its entirety. The objectives of the Bill that are being advanced can be accomplished without putting the Constitution to the sword.

    If he fails to withdraw, if they go forward, if this offensive piece of dictatorial legislating becomes law, then we will call the people out to fire the government. We will gather in increasing numbers and shut the country down. We will withhold labour and consumption. We will make the country as ungovernable as is possible until the forty one servants in this House, especially those that are sworn to serve the people as ministers understand that the days of the tail wagging the dog are over, that the people know their rights and will enforce them.

    We call on the government to withdraw the Cybercrime Bill. We call on the government to step back from the wasteful litigating into the property tax and to have a conversation with the people regarding taxation of private property and to what use those funds will be put. At present the people pay a hefty stamp duty at the purchase giving the government its share in front. Adding an additional property tax is double taxation and we will resist that.

    At this point government and the opposition come across dysfunctional, clueless and deliberately confrontational as if designed to distract from the real issues of the day that are not being addressed, and we are here to tell them either do the jobs you were hired for, or take your bacchanal elsewhere.

  34. Can we blame anyone ? Can we blame the Government ? Health care workers ? The System ? The Opposition. ( Kamla ? ) ?
    We the people ….

  35. Wake up people. IT could happen to anyone of us

  36. Medical staff….paid by the government….no proper service…meet them in the private clinics…transformed….they too sweet.

  37. How about sending the video of dying man to. BBC or some other international news outlet? We need big time international shaming

  38. Dead men tell no tales. So dey safe.

  39. The way he died and the process leading up to his death are both shocking. That this could be happening in TT 2017 is shocking. What is the most shocking though is the lack of public outcry. Except for some comments on social media and the news reports – nothing! I need to stop being disappointed in TT

    • You most certainly do need to stop. Do yourself a favour and save your sanity

    • Mel Lissa, no we should not stop. If there has not been enough outcry, let us on here do something. I am in. What we doing?

    • Find out what can be done and tag/message me

    • Jere K Andrews, I’m in too. Find what can be done and let me know. Most importantly, find someone who cares and gives a shit because we need to talk to someone.

    • Well from our discussions on here, people are saying since he had no relatives, pursuit of justice cannot be forced. To me though, even if there is no monetary compensation to be handed out to someone, surely a better investigation into what has happened (not the fraudulent one that they have already done) and staff should be made answerable for this atrocity. Are there any lawyers on here?

    • I’m in three! But for grace this could be (the older or incapacitated version of) me… or my loved ones!! #Unnaceptable

    • I suggest first of wall, this post this on pages like UNHCR, CNN etc. Don’t let his life go in vein. Share!!!

    • Mel Lissa and @Jere k. Andrews, I shared on a few pages and also on the OPM fb page.
      The response by the MoH clearly is inadequate. We need to demand answers and not PR.
      Don’t let this man’s life be sacrificed in vain. What systems/policies are going to be changed as a result of this situation? And from when? Are there in fact policies/systems to treat with these situations? Suppose the gentleman was suffering from Alzheimer’s, would they have just allowed him to leave in such a condition without notifying a next of kin?
      This entire situation cannot be brushed off as administrative.
      For those of you with Twitter accounts, please feel free to also share.

  40. Do they really expect us to believe any of this?
    1. No, he did not “disappear” on 2 occasions. Might I remind you that an eyewitness saw your guards physically take him outside.
    2. Your guards did not observe him outside after his 1st “disappearance.” Our eyewitness had to beg the hospital to readmit him
    3. No, he did not discharge himself. Might I remind you that he could not walk and was writhing in pain?
    4. If your guards had so promptly observed and willingly readmitted him the 1st time within 1/2 hr (so you say,) how did they not observe him DYING on the lawn for a full TWELVE hours proceeding his 2nd “disappearance.”
    Somebody needs to answer for this. T&T, what we doing about this???

    http://www.looptt.com/content/minister-after-elderly-mans-death-no-process-be-fixed

  41. #RightOnTarget Lasana! It really pains me when much of the power is indeed in the hands of citizens #WeThePeople who, it seems, have not yet been able to envision the nexus between the civic ballot / or voice of the tax-paying customer and the much-needed shift from the mediocrities we continue to accept as the norm in this our beloved nation.

  42. POS general Mortuary. RIP Mr. Phillip.

  43. What is the accepted view of how he came to die in the manner he did?

    • Mel Lissa? Rudy Paul? Nerisha Mohammed? Chabeth Haynes? Leslie-Ann Boisselle?

    • I don’t know what is ‘accepted’ eh. I recall the drama began with a video posted on facebook of the gentleman writhing in pain on the POSGH lawn. It was said he died there some hours after he was dumped there by hospital security. Next thing I heard is the MoH saying he was given the best treatment at the hospital and some other fluff.

    • Because I heard people saying it isn’t known how he ended up there.
      Is there an investigation or something?

    • Well let me find the eyewitness video

    • Has the hospital explained how he ended up there?

    • I admit I did not watch the video, though I read comments about it.
      That a citizen of our country, where we have access to free health, sorry, hell care, can be treated in such a manner, is frightening to me to say the least.
      I am concerned that with the onlookers, nobody thought to tell security they could not treat a human being like that?
      And as much as social media plays a part, where is the genuine and consistent outrage that these things are allowed to happen?
      That the MoH can feel comfortable to give pathetic excuses for such an incident.
      Instead of solutions. Such as, even if you release yourself, it must be into someone’s care. Clearly the gentleman must have been in a delicate state. No contact number for family on the card he had to fill out?
      What is scary is this person filmed this incident. What if nobody did? Just another dead body turned up?

    • What I wanna know is who is responsible, or is it another act of God?

    • Nothing about our public hospitals surprises me. Just pay a visit to the casualty department of Mt Hopeless. People die sitting in chairs overnight there which never make the news.

    • Nobody is responsible, Vernal Damion Cadogan. The man, according to the MoH, discharge himself.
      Now, if someone has Alzheimer’s, whose responsibility was it? Could he have discharged himself?
      See, I am so angry that we allow our elderly people to be abused in this way.
      Are we destined to never get old?
      Just like Shannon, I fear justice is a word we will never get a sense of in this sad place.

    • Nerisha you eh see nutten yet! My Aunt was given a pre surgery injection in Mt Hope and put to sit in a chair because they had no bed space. Some head doctor came hours after and said that they needed to give her it while lying down. I met an elderly couple in Mt Hope’s casualty dept. sitting on chairs – the wife told me that the old man had a heart attack the day before and that he had to sit in the chair all night (and into the next evening when I met them) because they had no bed space

    • Ihu Mel Lissa. Not the topic of this piece, but then maybe all of this shows that we need to stop playing politics and open the existing hospital in Couva.
      Because while people are sick, the immediate solution should be to use what is available. They cannot wait for expansion, repair etc.
      And I do not doubt your experience, although I do empathise with it.
      I know of someone who worked for over 40 years as a senior public servant in the MoH, ironically enough. Got a stoke recently, went to POS General, and was placed in a broken down bed.
      I know of another individual who needs chemo, machines down, stage IV cancer. What’s their position do you think?
      And these are just what I know offhand.
      Why are we playing politics with people’s lives, literally?
      With BILLIONS being spent on healthcare annually, why do we accept such service?
      Because demanding they fix what we pay for would deny the private facilities of the clientele?
      Oops, who would be losing out?
      Smh

    • Accepted view? there is no view it is what it is

    • All are related stories Nerisha. It shows that our public hospitals are in crisis mode. They have been that way for years. This isn’t new

    • The funny thing is that Trinis spend more energy debating the merits of Obamacare than they do their own.
      Why local healthcare still so abysmal?

    • Mel Lissa, the problem I have is that people like this elderly gentleman may not have people to stand up and speak out on his behalf.
      I get angry when I see our citizens behaving as though this is the level of service the u are entitled to, or deserve.

    • It should anger all of us – whether he has people to speak up for him or not

    • Do local hospitals have a position called Patient’s Advocate?

    • Nerisha Mohammed he did not discharge himself. He couldn’t even walk. Impossible. They are lying.

    • The question now is, where do we go from here. In terms of making the system work.
      I know there was an attempt to computerised records so your medical records could be accessed by pharmacy and hospital. That went out the window.
      In terms of this case. He discharged himself. Does that mean his vitals were taken, and he was admitted or given a diagnosis?
      Was there any discussion with the doctor before he released himself?

    • His neighbours spoke last night and said that they called the ambulance to pick him up at home and that he could not walk when they came for him. The eyewitness lady saw him being placed on the lawn and still unable to walk after Deyalsing said he was given the ‘best’ treatment and that he discharged himself. How could a man who can’t walk discharge himself?

    • Vernal Damion Cadogan, no. At Mt. Hope, they have CSRs, you can lodge a complaint or write.

    • The accepted view is that not only is the NWRHA incompetent and incompassionate, since they put an elderly sick man out; but they are also liars who take the public for fools by feeding us a ludicrous and improbable review of the circumstances surrounding this man’s death. In summary, they killed him and have decided to cover it up.

    • Mel Lissa and Jeré K. Andrews, it should be sickening to see this story because it appears this poor old man does not even get dignity or justice in death.
      We all smell something. So is the next remedy to take the MoH to court for negligence? Sigh.
      Again, good thinking to the lady who filmed this.

    • Someone raised a valid point …. jow could he discharge himself in that condition?
      I guess since no legal action is being taken against the hospital no investigation will be undertaken and the hospital won’t implement policies to ensure ths doesn’t happen again.

    • Whose gonna take them to court Nerisha?

    • Apparently no one Mel Lissa, the man seems to jave had no loved ones and T&T has no Civil Liberties Union.

    • Well his neighbours are speaking up on his behalf

    • So yeah- they are loved ones

    • Vernal Damion Cadogan there is nothing we can do as members of the public? I am willing to help pursue justice for this dead man.