There are more revelations from inside the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City. The hospital’s management is moving quickly to undo more than two decades of inadequate maintenance of an infrastructure that is extremely stressed. Hipolito Novelo spoke to the KHMHA Board Chair, Dr Andre Sosa, who describes the disposal of waste at the morgue as shocking. Here is that report by Senior Reporter Hipolito Novelo.
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: This is the nation’s referral hospital. Patients from across the country come to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital to receive medical treatment. The KHMH came into existence in 1995, replacing the old Belize City hospital. That was more than twenty five years ago and time has taken its toll on the hospital’s infrastructure. According to Chair of the KHMHA Board, Dr. Andre Sosa, the building is safe but what is a fact is that there is a need to undo some twenty years of inadequate maintenance.
Dr. Andre Sosa, Chair KHMHA Board: “For example the poor electrical or the deteriorated electrical system had a direct impact on our ability to provide care for our patients in the COVID unit because so many devices depend on electricity. We are already working on rewiring the hospital but it’s nowhere near completion.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: There is also a need to upgrade the hospital IT infrastructure with the aim to bring the KHMH into the twenty-first century. Dr. Sosa says that the plumbing in the hospital has seriously deteriorated in the past years.
Dr. Andre Sosa, Chair KHMHA Board: “More than twenty years now that that has needed to be attended to so significant investments will need to be made in that regard. The dietary unit, the kitchen, is also in dire need of repair and that is something we plan to work on it. It was interrupted when the COVID emergency started.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: Then there is the morgue- its in desperate need of an upgrade. In fact, it has been in desperate need for improvement and adequate maintenance years for many years. The waste produced at the morgue are simply disposed off into the sewage system – something Dr. Sosa describes as shocking.
Dr. Andre Sosa, Chair KHMHA Board: “Presently there’s only one table to do the autopsies and of course that means a significant delay in providing the autopsies for people to be able to get back their loved ones to do their funerals and so on. It’s a deplorable situation where the waste that is generated in the morgue are emptied untreated into the sewer system that is an unacceptable situation and it’s shocking that that situation exists. That is something we need to rectify in as quick as possible time.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: But this isn’t a recent problem. The infrastructure of the KHMH has been left to deteriorate over the past years. So who is to blame and will these issues be addressed with urgency and seriousness?
Dr. Andre Sosa, Chair KHMHA Board: “I’m not here to cast blame but there are so many problems, the list of problems is so great that I think that what is important as I said before is that technical people be present on these boards and that they are able to give the necessary support to the management staff for the necessary changes to be made.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: But how soon would these important issues be addressed because the public believes that whenever you become a member of a board you basically just have meetings and you collect a stipend for your meeting or fuel or whatever. How active and persistent will this board be to address these issues ?
Dr. Andre Sosa, Chair KHMHA Board: “Well I’ll tell you something. We are meeting practically every week or every two weeks from when we assumed the positions in December. Now we’re at about twice monthly meetings and our meetings will often times last from 2pm until 8pm. Now that sounds like a lot of time and it is indeed a lot of time but the depth of the problems was so great that we needed to invest the time and that’s what we’re doing.”
It is important to note, at this point, how unprecedented it is for the media to have access into the KHMH’s fiscal and infrastructural situation. In previous years many of our requests for a look into the administration of the national referral hospital have gone unanswered, and in some cases, denied.