NWRHA cancels media tour of NICU

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NWRHA cancels media tour of NICU

A planned media tour of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the Port of Spain General Hospital (PoSGH) scheduled for noon today, Thursday, April 25th, has been cancelled.

The North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) said it was forced to cancel the arrangement to host members of the media on a tour of the department after it received a letter from the lawyers acting on behalf of the babies who died.

In a statement this morning, the NWRHA said the invitation had been cancelled, stating “On April 24th, (it) received a pre-action protocol letter from the Freedom Law Chambers on behalf of their client, which specifically raises concerns regarding the invitation extended to media representatives for the NICU visit. In light of this legal development and upon careful consideration of legal counsel, we have decided to cancel today’s visit.’

In the letter from Freedom House Chambers, lawyers said it was “strange” that the parents who raised concerns over the deaths of their babies were not invited by the Ministry of Health to be part of the media tour.

“It is strange to say the least, that none of our clients whose babies died at the NICU, were invited to be part of this tour so that there could be some realistic balance to this one-sided event,” it stated.

Freedom Law Chambers asked that the ministry explain the purpose and timing of the media tour.

“Why did the Minister take so long to invite the media to tour the NICU? Our clients are obviously skeptical in light of yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) events whereby there was a mad scramble by the NWRHA (North West Regional Health Authority) to remove ineffective and broken equipment and sanitise the haematology lab before allowing the PAHO investigators to view same,” it stated.

The law firm noted that media personnel were advised to comply with the mandatory dress code guidelines which included short nails, short-sleeved shirts, no jewelry, avoidance of loud colognes or perfumes, no sleeveless clothing and footwear must fully cover toes.

“It is unfortunate that the medical staff that was in charge of our clients’ babies did not comply with these rules that were observed more in breach than in actual practice,” Freedom Law stated.