Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 1st 2016 Contents A5
May 1, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
The wrong-sized Magnetic Resonance
Imaging (MRI) machine, valued $34 million,
has been installed at the Scarborough General
As a result of this, dozens of patients who
are unable to fit into the MRI machine s tunnel
now have to be flown to private health insti-
tutions in Trinidad to get their MRI scans done
at taxpayers expense.
It costs approximately $4,000 to do a routine
Those MRI scans are said to be done at
the Alexandra MRI Ltd, located on Alexandra
Street in St Clair, Trinidad.
Alexandra MRI Ltd has the first and only
open MRI unit in the Caribbean---the Philips
Panorama High Field Open (HFO) machine.
The Panorama HFO offers an alternative
to the tunnel-like MRI units.
The only MRI machine at a public health
institution in this country that can accom-
modate "obese" patients is at the Couva Chil-
dren s Hospital which remains closed.
An MRI scan is a non-invasive scan that
sees inside the human body. It uses magnetic
fields and pulses of radio wave frequency to
take pictures of tissues, ligaments, arteries,
joints and structures.
Cabinet granted approval for the purchase
of an MRI machine for the Scarborough hos-
pital costing $34 million, according to the
13th report of the Joint Select Committee
(JSC) on Ministries, Statutory Authorities and
State Enterprises (Group 2).
A Magnetom Avanto MRI machine from
Siemens was commissioned at the hospital
However, when trial runs were being done
last August, it was realised that the machine
was the wrong size to accommodate "many
people in Tobago."
George Bryce, the project site manager at
the hospital, wrote Patrick Caesar at the
National Insurance Property Development
Company Limited (Nipdec) on the issue on
"The Magnetom Avanto (MRI machine)
installed at the MRI/Cath Lab facility at the
Scarborough General Hospital is a 60 c.m.
bore while the documents pg 35 employers
requirement calls for a 70 c.m. bore machine,"
"At one of our many trial runs this morning
(9.30 am August 2015), a male test patient
(330 lbs weight) was unable to be processed.
This was minus body coils. Think about a
female patient," he wrote.
"I wish to point out that there are many
people in Tobago with body weights well in
excess of 330 lbs. This machine therefore will
not be able to handle these obese persons."
"Please treat this advisory with the utmost
dispatch," he wrote.
Bryce then referred to the document pro-
vided by Siemens about the Magnetom Avanto
"The Siemens document claims For claus-
trophobic patients, Magnetom Avanto enables
feet first exams for nearly all MRI procedures.
For obese patents, it supports up to 250 k.g.
(550 lbs), without table movement restrictions,"
The letter was copied to the head of depart-
ment at Nipdec, Vyas Ramphalie; Nipdec s
project manager, Damien Leach; Yunfei Zhang,
the contractor s representative at China Rail-
way Construction Caribbean Company Ltd
(CRCCCL); David Jaikissoon, the managing
director of Biomedical Technologies Ltd;
Ronald Koylass, the project manger at the
Ministry of Health; and Dr Rohit Doon, the
adviser of Health Promotion, Communications
and Public Health at the Ministry of Health.
Biomedical Technologies responds
On August 20, Jaikissoon replied to Bryce s
Biomedical Technologies Ltd is listed as a
"cooperation partner" in this country on the
Siemens Web site.
"We acknowledge receipt of a copy of your
letter to Mr P Caesar concerning the Mag-
netom Avanto 1.5T MRI unit installed at the
"In this regard please see that attached
published equipment specifications by
Siemens which were submitted with the ten-
der documents indicating that the unit sup-
plied has a 90 c.m. bore which meets the
tender requirements," Jaikissoon said.
The document provided by Jaikissoon stated
the Magnetom Avanto s "magnet parameters"
include a "Magnet bore diameter of 90 c.m."
The document explained that the "magnet
bore diameter" was "without shim coils, gra-
dient coil, RF (radiofrequency) body coil" and
that the "inner diameter" was actually 60
The "inner diameter" is "inclusive of the
shim coils, gradient coil and RF body coil,"
the document stated.
According to Siemens website the "bore
size of the Magnetom Avanto is 60 c.m."
Bryce: No comment
The Sunday Guardian contacted Bryce last
week on the situation but he said he had no
comment to make.
Confused, frustrated and
heartbroken is how Chan-
drawatie Nandlal, the com-
mon-law wife of former
Centrin worker David
Francis, says her family
feels after a High Court
injunction was granted late
Friday night to stop Fran-
However, Nandlal said
she intends to challenge the
Speaking to the Sunday Guardian from her Per-
severance, Couva, home yesterday, Nandlal said she
was home around 11 pm on Friday when attorney
Gerald Ramdeen and a police officer came asking
"With all the things they are saying about me,
my daughter started crying because she did not
know what was happening," Nandlal said. "They
came and gave me the injunction, telling me I could
not do the funeral again.
"I am so confused, I don t know what to
do...nobody knows what is going on with me and
I am hearing talk that this woman is coming with
her attorneys to take my house from me and my
Francis was found hanging at the home he shared
with Nandlal and their two children on April 21. He
was one of some 200 workers who were given notices
of retrenchment by Centrin on February 25 and at
the time of his death, relatives told the media Francis
was depressed over mounting debts.
An autopsy done on April 25 by pathologist Dr
Valery Alexandrov, at the Forensic Science Centre
in St James, revealed Francis died as a result of hang-
ing.However, Francis substantive wife, Donna Francis,
along with other relatives, questioned the autopsy
findings and had another autopsy done on his body
on Friday. The second autopsy was done at a funeral
home by Prof Hubert Daisley and the results differed
from Alexandrov s findings.
Donna Francis, through attorneys Ramdeen and
Suschilla Ramkissoon-Mark, applied for a High
Court injunction on Friday after the autopsy results
and High Court Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh granted
But Nandlal is questioning how Donna Francis
could have more rights to Francis body than she.
"We have been living together for 19 years, he
and her (Donna) got married and were together for
five years before he and I pick up. When they break
up, he went his way and she went hers, they didn t
have any communication and everything David and
I have, we make from scratch.
"I think it is just money they are after because
Centrin management had promised to pay David s
severance and to pay for his funeral," Nandlal added.
"We just want to lay him to rest and start to heal
but they are attacking us on all sides. I am going
to hire my own lawyer and challenge the injunction.
Right now, I am looking for a lawyer to help me
because I really don t know what is going on."
In the meantime, Nandlal said she was going to
stop holding nightly wakes for David as the expense
has become too much for her to bear.
"Just to make two announcements that the funeral
was put off cost $700 and every night I keep the
tents and chairs is an extra cost. I really don t want
to do it, but I have to...I can t afford to do wake
Scarborough Hospital officials in a quandary...
$34m MRI machine too
small for some patients
...as common-law wife
On May 22 last year the Magnetom Verio
was delivered at the Couva Children's Hospital.
The Magnetom Verio is the only MRI
machine in a public health facility in this
country with a 70 c.m. bore, the size that the
Scarborough General Hospital requested.
The Magnetom Verio is said to be the first
Three Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging (3T
MRI) in the Caribbean and one of only 300
operational in the world.
The Children's Hospital, however, remains
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said on
Friday that the Couva hospital will be officially
handed over to the Government on May 30.
An online group, Safe Drivers for
Efficiency, has created a petition for
the Government to increase the speed
limit on highways to 120 kilometres
per hour (kmph.)
The petition comes one day after
Works and Transport Minister Fitzger-
ald Hinds announced that from
tomorrow police will be using speed
guns to ticket offenders who go over
the speed limit.
The speed limit is currently 80
The petition, which had gained over
2,000 signatures by late yesterday
evening, proposed variable speed lim-
its.The proposal included a 120kmph
limit on long, open stretches of high-
way, 100kmph approaching simple
highway intersections and 80kmph
approaching complex highway inter-
The proposal also included a limit
of 60kmph at complex intersections.
The petition said modern and recent
vehicles were safer in crashes at these
speeds and the TTPS was now
equipped and legally allowed to enforce
It said the same 80 to 120kmph
limits were presently enforced with
radar guns and cameras in Spain where
road maintenance and conditions are
similar to this country s.
"We are not advocating lawlessness
but are lobbying for reasonable mod-
ernisation of our laws. The reality is
that thousands of people in Trinidad
& Tobago have been safely commuting
for decades at 100 to 120kmph on
Group urges 120kmph speed limit
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