BASSETERRE, ST KITTS – Former Prime Minister the Rt Hon dr Denzil L. Douglas has accused the Timothy Harris-led PLP/CCM/PAM coalition of hiding information from the public in relation to the Peter Nygard Stem Cell JNF Hospital scandal which has resulted in two senior health official losing their jobs although they are not accused on any wrongdoing.
Although the project was approved by the Cabinet of St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr the Hon. Timothy Harris, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Patrick Martin was hastily sent on vacation and pre-retirement leave when he found out about the Stem Cell Project operating at the Private Ward of the J. N. France General Hospital without his approval and had ordered off the hospital compound, a Brazilian-born physician, who was not licenced to practice in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. Less than 24 hours after Martin was sent packing, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Mr. Andrew Skerritt received a letter transferring him out of that ministry to a position which even Health Minster Hon. Eugene Hamilton did not have a clue.
“This is not only an embarrassment to the families of Dr. Martin and Mr. Andrew Skerritt, but also an embarrassment and a scandal to the medical fraternity in St. Kitts and Nevis and to the people at large in our country,” said Dr. Douglas.
Reiterating that the government has to be hiding information Dr Douglas questioned the summarily removal of the two senior health officials and the failure to name replacements.
“It is because i believe that the government has something to hide which was been exposed as a result of the action of CMO Martin. I believe that Dr Martin has been wrongfully terminated,” expressing the view that the Ministry of Health is in crisis, especially the state of affairs at the Joseph N. France General Hospital where there is “fear and concern and they have now set in among the medical, health personnel and among the general public who uses the facility.”
“There is a cloud of fear and uncertainty,” said Dr. Douglas, who disclosed that at 11:30 pm Tuesday while preparing and reading through the material on the internet for the “Issues” programme he received a phone call.
“A lady who is pregnant and soon to deliver her second child called to ask me the following questions; Dr. Douglas if I were to deliver my baby at the Joseph N France Hospital, can the hospital authorities take my baby umbilical cord or navel string and the placenta which joins that baby to me and preserve it for stem cell research and clinical application, can they do that at the J N France General Hospital? My answer was, I hope they don’t. And I hope that they won’t but with Dr Martin being removed for standing up to ensure that this does not happen, anything can happen under this government of Dr. Harris,” said Dr. Douglas.
“There is fear. There is concern. There is uncertainty and while our people are in this state of affairs not only out in the public but also at JNF Hospital, Prime Minister Harris remains and speechless while legitimate fears that placenta and umbilical cords and remains of aborted foetuses can be stored at the J N France Hospital for stem cell research and applications at what the government now calls a new stem cell research center that is three rooms at our private ward at our hospital. That is what has gripped young pregnant woman going into the Joseph N France hospital to deliver their babies,” added Dr. Douglas.
“Are the remains going to be used for stem cell research here in St. Kitts and Nevis without the consent of the mothers, without commission of the mothers and without any compensation whatsoever to the mothers. Is this is what is happening at our own health facility and the people of St Kitts and Nevis are only finding out about stem cell research after dr martin created a stink at the hospital and as a result of that he was fired,” Dr Douglas stated.