Too risky

Parents not taking any chances with infectious disease unit

Take it somewhere else!

This was the strong contention of outraged parents of children attending the Ursuline Convent School (UCS) this evening as they outrightly rejected the Government’s plans to site a disease treatment centre next door to the UCS.

In tears, one father declared that if the plan should proceed and the centre is located so close to his child’s school, he intended to make it his mandate to contact his attorney to get an injunction to stop the isolation unit from functioning.

“I am very serious about it,” he warned during a heated meeting, which was chaired by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Tennyson Springer and Chief Medical Health Officer Dr Joy St John.

“If I have to spend my last cent I would do it, and I am asking all the other parents in here to let’s come together and get something done to stop that from opening, because it’s not their children, it’s our children,” he said to loud cheers from the large gathering in the school’s auditorium.

Despite assurances given by the authorities, the parents were adamant that they wanted no part in the current plan, which they believe not only puts the lives of their children at tremendous risk, but could also affect the school’s survival.

“There will be a lot of parents who might be so afraid that you cannot handle this situation that are going to mass exodus the school and put their children somewhere else. So you are directly affecting the profitability of the school. And I don’t know if you all really considered that because these parents are here because we have now realized that you all are only here to answer questions and the decision has already been made,” one upset mother said.

Another parent, who is a medical doctor, described the decision to put the isolation centre so close to the school as one of the “worse” decisions he has ever seen.

The doctor, who said he accepted his own risk as a frontline worker in the treatment of patients with disease, said it was medically known that children and geriatric patients were most vulnerable to contracting infectious diseases.

“I don’t understand why it had to be close to the [Queen Elizabeth] hospital, because it is an intensive care unit and you will not be transporting patients to the hospital. Bloods will not be going to the hospital, they will be going overseas,” he pointed out, while suggesting there were three reasons why the authorities chose to situate the infectious disease centre at the Enmore clinic, a mere 20 feet away from the school.

“It’s there, and it’s easy and cheap,” he said, adding that the closeness of an incinerator to deal with waste management and staffing were the other important factors.

“I am totally against that [the isolation unit] being [next to the school],” he said, stressing that “while I understand my risk and I understand your [health authorities] reasons, I am not only talking about Ebola, I am talking about all communicable diseases,” the doctor stressed.

The Government was also warned by members of the expressive, and at times loud gathering, that if it persists with the proposal for treating Ebola and other victims of infectious diseases next to the school, they would move their children elsewhere to continue their education.

“I think as parents we need to exercise our power as was mentioned by a number of speakers. Other schools have closed down because of bad smells and pigeon droppings . . . I know if we keep our children home something is going to happen, one thing or the other,” another parent suggested.

Susan Chinnery, administrator of UCS, said the establishment of the unit so close to the private learning institution, had also come as a shock to the school’s management, as she sought justification for the move.

“Was there an environmental impact study carried out?,” she asked.

She also pointed out that the 650 plus individuals who spend the day at Convent do not actually live on site.

“They return each evening to homes in every parish in Barbados,” she said, noting that “this is not just a UCS concern.”

The school official also wanted to know: “Who made the decision? Where are the town hall meetings that prepare people, provide information and most importantly precede action? Where have they gone?”

In an attempt to provide answers, Springer, who was interrupted on occasion, noted that the centre was approved by the Pan American Health Organisation. He also sought to assure parents that protocols were being followed, and the appropriate provisions implemented.

He told the parents and the school’s management that while officials understood their stance on the matter, the ministry was not out to harm the children, who it was lawfully mandated to protect.

This evening’s meeting was attended by a large group of parents including this man who was moved to tears.
This evening’s meeting was attended by a large group of parents including this man who was moved to tears.

“We are convinced from all of the studies that your children are safe. As a matter of fact your children are safer here than they are in the public park, at the airport or somewhere else,” he said.

Before the session was halted by Chinnery, Dr St John further assured the upset parents that the ministry would take on board their concerns and suggestions.     

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17 Responses to Too risky

  1. Kathleen Gardner
    Kathleen Gardner October 17, 2014 at 4:52 am

    Why can’t they use the old st Joseph hospital

  2. Chris Ren
    Chris Ren October 17, 2014 at 6:14 am

    How about anywhere but the most populated areas. Hence the definition of isolation.

  3. Santini More
    Santini More October 17, 2014 at 6:18 am

    We are all NIMBYs – Not In My Back Yard

  4. June Parris
    June Parris October 17, 2014 at 7:08 am

    Totally agree to use the St Joseph hospital. Do you think a 4 bedded unit looking like someone’s house will be sufficient to deal with an outbreak, and do you know that the virus is not only spread by contact, but also by inhalation, see recent events. I do not think this was researched properly. A 4 bedded isolation unit ha ha

    • Shirley Garnes
      Shirley Garnes October 17, 2014 at 7:48 am

      Which disease are you talking about is spread by inhalation?

    • Chris Kinkaid
      Chris Kinkaid October 17, 2014 at 9:18 am

      Soooooo the ppl that live next door to St. Joseph Hospital and the school down wind from it don’t matter?? Just need a little rationale for your suggestion.

  5. June Parris
    June Parris October 17, 2014 at 8:05 am

    Read recent events and what scientists believe, what they are not telling us about Ebola, do some research

  6. Prince Nick
    Prince Nick October 17, 2014 at 8:50 am

    Put it in st Lucy d old military base ?? Or somewhere

  7. Patrick Blackman October 17, 2014 at 9:47 am

    This is just uneducated histerics, Ebola is just like any other communicable desease. All the hype in the media has just made these fools more paranoid now. Do these people know that more people die from the common flu/cold a year than have died from the first case of ebola. They should be more concerned with the common flu/cold, and the rampant mosquito infestation in on the island. Do they understand the transmission mechanism for ebola, cut the crap and do some reading and educate yourselves first before you start this stupid stuff.

  8. June Parris
    June Parris October 17, 2014 at 10:52 am

    I am a qualified UK based nurse and I did training in management of Ebola very recently, and I know that Barbados does not seem to understand the consequences of Ebola, isolation and what to expect, you should read everything, you should not dismiss anything lightly, wait and see, read read read everything

  9. Harmony Channay
    Harmony Channay October 17, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Thank you June Parris even our health proffesional here have a question mark on it being airbourne, it may just be a case of we are not sure as yet so rule it out for now

  10. Tony Waterman October 18, 2014 at 2:33 am

    @Kathleen Gardner.Chris Ren,Santini More, !!! I totally agree with you all on your various comments
    @June Parris!!! This Statment from you, I agree with “”Totally agree to use the St Joseph hospital. Do you think a 4 bedded unit looking like someone’s house will be sufficient to deal with an outbreak,”””
    On the other hand, i expected a lot more professionalism from someone who CLAIMS to be a HIGHLY TRAINED Health Proffessional. You aske the Question “” do you know that the virus is not only spread by contact, but also by inhalation””?????
    THAT IS CATEGORICALLY NOT TRUE, unless you know a lot more about the EBOLA VIRUS than the WHO and the CDC.
    Even the URL that you have posted, which seems to be aimed at the UK Frontline Workers, have indicated the OPPOSITE to what you are Saying, and i will quote from that Document.
    EBOLA TRANSMISSION:-Unlike infections like ‘flu or measles, which can be spread by virus particles that remain in the
    air after an infected person coughs or sneezes, transmission of
    Ebola from person to person is by DIRECT CONTACT with the blood or body fluids (e.g.saliva, vomitus, urine, stool and semen) of a SYMPTOMATIC infected person.
    @Chris Kinkaid !!!! THEY do Matter, but whilst disagrrein on what June is putting out there, her advise on doing research is a must as you have absolutele no idea about how EBOLA is Spread down wind has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with Virus, go to the URL that June Posted, read an COMPREHEND it and you will learn a lot
    @Patrick Blackman!!!! What would you suggest the POPULACE do when the PRIME MINISTER and the Government of Barbados has not up to this time (5000 dead in Africa) COMMUNICATED with the PEOPLE to bring them up to date on the EBOLA VIRUS and with what plans are being put in place IF it ever arrives on our shores. OBAMA has, Cameron Has, the EU has, ST.Lucia Has

  11. Patrick Blackman October 18, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    @Tony Waterman!!! – the populace need to educate themselves on this issue. You just cannot sit down and wait on the government to guide our lives. We all have a brain, we just need to use it. Because the US, UK, EU etc. have issued statements/ position it doesn’t mean we have to be sheeple and do the same. The government needs to get the best information possible and then advise the public when it deems it necessary.

    Ebola has been around since 1976 I think and the death toll prior to this outbreak was less than 1500 during the years, so I don’t see it as a major issue. If poor African countries can contain the death toll so far to under 6000 with out the infrastructure of the developed world I don’t think we have a major problem, as I have said before the common cold and flu kill thousand upon thousand per year


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