The public was outraged after it was reported that a rat bit the feet of a newborn baby at the Western Regional Hospital. That outrage grew when a video of the nurses removing the rat from the incubator and killing it with a broom stick went viral on the internet. The public wants someone’s head to roll, but no one has been fired or held accountable. In an interview last week, Minister of Health, Pablo Marin shared doubt that the rat made its way into the incubator on its own. Now the story is that the rat was placed in the incubator. Marin’s CEO, Dr. Peter Allen, says those are the reports he has been getting as well.
Dr.Peter Allen, CEO Ministry of Health:
“I certainly have heard the rumors of sabotage I certainly have heard the rumors that there is some kind of campaign. From my perspective let me say that we will focus on the issues of the development of the plans within the $30 million dollar grant we will focus on the issue of correcting challenges that address the institution right now because honestly I cannot comprehend that there is any patriotic Belizean who would be so, shall we say bitter and twisted, as to possibly engage in such slander and activities against a public hospital and against other care providers who do their best under difficult circumstances to provide care and treatment for our people. So given that I am aware of the rumors I simply cannot comprehend that there are people in our midst who would stoop to such terrible depths.”
CEO Allen says that the thirty million dollar grant received from the European Union has been earmarked for Belmopan and the plan is to improve the infrastructure of the Western Regional Hospital. But before that is done several steps need to be taken.
Dr.Peter Allen, CEO Ministry of Health: “With the European and most grant funds the first thing that we would engage in is public consultations. So we won’t want to start constructing until we’ve sat down with the community and looked at what we actually want in terms of the services from this building; what do we actually want to provide for this community in Belmopan and for referrals from others. Now part of that with Belmopan is that the Western Regional Hospital also acts as a referral center in times of hurricanes and disasters from the Central Region and from Karl Heuser so when we decide what we’re going to construct we must have first determine what are the functions that that building will provide, based on the structure we will look at the structure and one of the things that we want to do especially considering our reputation as an environmentally friendly country and especially considering the direction that we want to take the system is that we want to construct a smart hospital. A smart hospital in the sense that it conserve electricity, that it uses its resources wisely and well and for those things we will want to draw on the expertise of the community and of other members of the private sector. I anticipate that we will begin those consultations before the end of the year.”
The story of the rat has hit the international media and that is not good for the health system in Belize. The story has been reported by CNN, The Daily Mail and even Primer Impacto.
Dr.Peter Allen, CEO Ministry of Health: “It’s outrageous and there is a process and we follow that process. The first step of the process is to write what we call in the public service show cause letters so those have already been written and delivered where people in administrative responsibility are asked to give us reasons why disciplinary actions should not be taken and what it their explanations for the events.”
Before this incident, reports surfaced of a rat infestation at the Western Regional hospital. Last week, Minister Marin told us that the Administrator of the hospital had paid three thousand dollars to an exterminator to kill the rats however, she has been unable to present a report for it.