Cancer patients turned away from San Fernando hospital amid water problems

Wednesday, September 14, 2016 - 07:45

For a second consecutive day, cancer patients seeking chemotherapy at the San Fernando General Hospital’s Oncology Centre were turned away yesterday because there was no water to facilitate treatment.

Dozens of terminally ill patients who came from across the country seeking treatment were told the facility had no water and treatments could not be carried out. 

It took the intervention of the spouse of one of the patients to call in a favour at the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) yesterday, before a small truckload of water was delivered to aid in treating some of the patients. 

A patient who requested anonymity said that he was turned away on Monday and returned yesterday to find that the situation had not changed. He was able to get his blood test around 1.20 pm yesterday.

“I came here from around 6.15 am on Monday and I saw a sign on the door stating there was no water. I spoke to someone who said they would not be able to do any treatments if there was no water. I waited until after 11 (am) to see if they would get water, but nothing happened,” he said

He said he returned yesterday around 5.30 am, “because I know there would be all the people who get turned away on Monday plus the people who had Tuesday appointments.” 

After waiting several hours, the man said a patient’s husband decided to call in a favour to WASA. 

“We were talking among ourselves and trying to decide who we could call for help. We thought about calling the Fire Services but then this woman’s husband said he has a friend who works at WASA and they made the arrangements from there.” 

A truckload of water was pumped into the tanks at the centre around 9.20 am and doctors began attending to patients at approximately 10 am. But patients are now concerned that the water problem will continue. 

“The water will not last long and when that is finished, where will they get water to operate? What if they can’t see everyone who is here today because that water runs out?” 

In addition to chemo treatment, for which water is required, patients also undergo urine tests and blood tests, as well as use the bathroom facilities. 

“I am very worried about what is going to happen with my treatments and I can’t afford to miss any chemo. This is very hard to have to play the waiting game,” another patient said.


Contacted for comment yesterday, CEO of the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA), Anil Gosine, said a leaking main on Lord Street, San Fernando, affected the water supply. 

He confirmed a truckborne supply was delivered to the hospital, but denied chemotherapy operations were affected. 

“Everything is continuing to operate as normal,” he said.

SOURCE: (Sharlene Rampersad)