Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 12th 2013 Contents A6
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt May 12, 2013
Public Affairs Editor
Nasty, ugly, callous, egotistical
and unbecoming of a minister and
Those were some of the adjectives
used by former government minister,
social worker and friend of the sex-
tuplets family, Verna St Rose-
Greaves, as she fired back at Health
Minister Fuad Khan s statements
that the babies father, Kieron Cum-
mings, was ungrateful.
Following revelations in a T&T
Guardian exclusive story last week
that doctors at Mt Hope had rec-
ommended overseas treatment for
the mother, Petra Lee Foon, Cum-
mings told the T&T Guardian that
he wished they had sought medical
treatment abroad. He said he was
not satisfied with the aftercare for
his children, two of whom (the
youngest, Paeton Christopher and
the eldest, Kaelon Nasir) have died.
A third, Persia Meleigh, is still hos-
"We re now hearing that they (the
parents) are ungrateful," said St Rose-
Greaves during an interview on Fri-
day. "We ve heard from the minister
that it was not a real pregnancy, not
a real birth.
"That behaviour is very unbe-
coming for a minister, far more from
a medical practitioner. This is all
about ego. The minister s interest in
having the children born here was
about him wanting to look good. He
didn t think further than that and
he should have.
"We have a young mother who
will obviously be having post-partum
challenges, who had a trying preg-
nancy, parents who have lost two
children in two weeks, worrying
about a third, and have three at home
to care for as new parents---and no
one paying attention to that."
Saying she considers the sextuplets
a beautiful gift to the nation and an
opportunity for the public health
system to establish best-practice
protocol in dealing with all preg-
nancies, St Rose-Greaves said Khan
is responsible for setting a negative
tone for public discussion about the
"I didn t want this to be a street
fight. The minister has squandered
the goodwill about these children,
just like the Government squandered
the goodwill of the 2010 general
She said the family has been and
remains grateful to the doctors, nurs-
es, consultants and ancillary staff at
the Mt Hope Neonatal Intensive Care
Unit (NICU) and knows that they
all did their best.
"Even the people cleaning the
wards and serving the food were
thrilled by the expected delivery.
They treated the couple very well
and we could not help but admire
them. That has not changed.
"We didn t have the equipment
but we got some of that---but if you
didn t have the experience then you
cannot expect the expertise. From
very early the doctors admitted they
did not have the experience. The
challenge is that you cannot get out
of something what is not there.
"The couple didn t get up one
morning and decide they wanted to
go away; it was on the advice of
people in the health system itself. If
he didn t want to carry them abroad,
why not bring in specialists?"
The head midwife at the hospital
told I95.5FM on Friday that she and
the nurses were hurt by Cummings
"Why are they and the minister
taking this so personally? What is
their hurt, compared to the parents
pain of losing their children?" asked
She said Khan s comments about
the couple being "given" an HDC
home showed he did not understand
the rights of citizenship.
"The Government didn t give
them a house. They have to pay
$375,000 for it. They are citizens,
they qualify for a home, they sub-
mitted their application years ago,
and every citizen has a right to apply
for and be considered to own a
"Is he saying that because they
were good to the couple, if they (the
couple) are not comfortable with
something, they should shut up and
not express that?"
On the money expended on the
sextuplets, St Rose-Greaves said she
wanted Khan to quantify the cost
of a child s life.
"Seeing that he is quantifying how
much money was spent on the deliv-
ery and care, what is the price of a
child s life?
"This is not a case of the equip-
ment brought in and they went
home with it or threw it away.
"The equipment was needed in
the system. Perhaps the minister can
give the public an outline of when
the equipment was bought, when it
arrived and how it was utilised for
the children. Let him answer that.
"He makes me wonder how much
of a priority children are. Nearly $1
million a month spent in rental of
One Alexandra Place for the past
three years and no one has occupied
that building because it s seen as
belonging to a political party. How
do these children compare to $10
million to bring Shaq, to the millions
spent on PR gimmicks and fancy
functions with food and drinks?
"Let him release the figures spent
on (Patrick) Manning and (Justice
Wendell) Kangaloo (who was injured
in a car accident on May 20 and
flown to Johns Hopkins Hospital,
Baltimore, and then to the Rehabil-
itation Institute in Chicago).
"The Children s Authority cannot
get the money it needs because of
quibbling over rent because the
building allegedly belongs to the
wrong people...people are flying to
see the world on taxpayers money."
Ethics and fertility treatment
She questioned the ethics of Khan
publicly revealing details of Lee
Foon s medical records.
"The fact that he was willing to
go public with the girl s private med-
ical information said a lot about him.
It is not his place to be so confronta-
tional. But perhaps I am expecting
from him what he does not have to
"How does a medical practitioner
not understand the ethics of sharing
confidential information? He keeps
talking about fertility drugs to bam-
boozle the public that this girl went
looking to have six children, and he
knows the truth and he knew it from
Confidence in health system
"How could we have confidence
when our maternal and infant mor-
tality rates are so astounding? We
all know about women going in (to
hospitals) healthy to have babies and
coming out dead, without their
wombs, or without their babies.
Delivery rooms have turned into
morgues. So it s not about not having
confidence; it s dealing with our real-
"If he saying we don t have con-
fidence in the system, why do min-
isters and leaders leave for care else-
where? If they have confidence in
the system, I am challenging them
to go through what people go
through daily. Go sit down in the
hospitals and scrub bench like other
people. We have young, good, caring
doctors in the system but with men-
tors like Fuad, they will become
jaded, callous, cold, uncaring, selfish,
and egotistical. I trust the minister
puts his business in place while he s
a minister because when he is no
longer he will see how it s not easy
for people who don t have."
Care plan and counselling
Answering statements by Khan
and Dr Shehenaz Mohammed (chair-
man of the North Central Regional
Health Authority) that deaths among
multiple-birth babies are not
uncommon, St Rose-Greaves said
she was flabbergasted that that was
the only standard to which they were
"So we only want to conform to
statistics on deaths? We don t want
to set a higher standard? And what
about the multiple births where all
the children are alive and well? Octo-
mom had eight and they re all alive.
Khan, she pointed out, "talked
about congenital malformation in
the children. Where is his proof of
that? Were post-mortems done to
determine cause of death?"
She said the nursing council was
to devise a care plan for the babies.
"Where is that plan? When was
Dr Mohammed put in charge and
when did they go into full gear? Let
him talk about that, since he is so
free with information.
"The couple is grieving; what has
been done to help them with their
grief and loss? What was the plan
for the counselling? Who did it?
What was their area of expertise?
How many sessions? Which family
members were counselled? What
were the objectives and the outcomes
of the counselling? Let him tell me
Saying that she and the family
will not be intimidated by Khan, St
Rose-Greaves said aggression among
young people is condemned but the
two parents, who are gentle and soft,
are being verbally beaten up because
they are not aggressive.
"I heard the midwife say on
I95.5FM that Kieron is being mis-
guided. The minister seems to think
that Kieron is my nephew. I want
him to know he doesn t have to
worry about Kieron being my
nephew. I have nephews and nieces
all over Trinidad. They serve meals
in the Diplomatic Centre, they are
in the coast guard, army, police,
among the Prime Minister s security,
in every institution and community
in this country. So Kieron should be
the least of his worries."
'What is the cost of a child's life?'
Verna returns fire on Fuad
Former government minister Verna St Rose Greaves
Dr Fuad Khan
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