The government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said it was “deeply concerned” over the reported incident of a Guyanese national on holiday in Trinidad & Tobago who died after being refused medical treatment at one of the island’s hospitals because he was a non-national.
Thirty-five-year-old Jeetindra Sookram died of a suspected heart attack last Thursday at a private medical institution after he was refused emergency treatment at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex.
According to a release from the Foreign Ministry, Guyana’s Honorary Consul General in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Ernie Ross has since requested the Minister of Health Fuad Khan to investigate this report. The release said that the minster has given the assurance that the matter is already under investigation and has reaffirmed the principle that no one should ever be refused emergency medical attention at any hospital.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be aggressively pursuing the matter with the authorities of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago,” the release said.
The ministry is also requesting that the bereaved family members make contact with Ross at the Guyana Consulate at 16 Gray Street, St Clair, Port of Spain or on telephone number 868-622-2913.
Sookram and his wife Vidya Baichu had gone to Trinidad on a two week vacation at the home of their friend Melissa Deosaran, and it was last Thursday he started complaining of chest pains. The woman in an interview with the Trinidad Express indicated that they were talking at Deosaran’s Central workplace around 7.30 am when he complained of the pain. Deosaran had taken them there because she had to drop something off. Baichu said she gave Sookram two painkillers, believing he may have been tired from their travel, but it did not help.
“He could not sit and he could not stand because the pain was getting to him more. It kept getting worse so we took him to the hospital (EWMSC),” Baichu told the newspaper. “When we got there, I went in with him and they took him straight to the place where they took blood and did tests. “When I went to register him now, they asked for ID and I gave them his passport. They told me he is not a Trinidadian resident and so all the services, we would have to pay for it.
“We asked them how much was the cost, they said they were not able to say, but whatever service they do we would have to pay for it.” Baichu is now calling on government to probe the incident, saying if Sookram had received help at the hospital he might still be alive. She said even while Sookram was grimacing from the chest pains, EWMSC medical staff told him to take a seat while they attended to other patients.
The wife said that Sookram had no known heart condition and had never experienced chest pains before. “I just want the government to look into it, because a lot of Guyanese come across here on vacation … and this could happen to anybody and the treatment that we got, I don’t want it for anybody else. I can’t understand how visitors can visit this country, go to the hospital and can’t get help. Maybe if they did not send us away, maybe there was a chance that he would still be alive.
“I am upset because it is a public hospital. People go to Guyana and anybody could go to the hospital and get treatment. Nobody is charged. I can’t understand how in a public hospital in this country, you have to pay for a service and their negligence is what caused his death.”