Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 5th 2014 Contents A5
Saturday, April 5, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Staff at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences
Complex (EWMSC) are once again under scruti-
ny after 35-year-old Guyanese national Jeetindra
Sookram died of a suspected heart attack an
hour after he was denied treatment there because
he was not a T&T citizen.
Sookram was then rushed to the Charlieville
Medical Centre Ltd for treatment, but died in the
back seat of a Nissan Navarra in the private clinic s
Caroni Savannah Road, Chaguanas car park on
Thursday. Doctors there said his symptoms sug-
gested he suffered a massive heart attack, as he
had complained about severe chest pains.
"I think it is negligence that caused him to not
have a chance. I can t understand how tourists
can come into this country and get treated like
this," Sookram s partner, Vidya Baichu, told the
T&T Guardian yesterday.
Baichu and Sookram, a farmer from the Guyanese
island of Wakenaam, had been on a two-week
vacation here and was staying at their friend Melissa
Deosaran s Warren Road, Cunupia home.
Chairman of the North Central Regional Health
Authority, Shehenaz Mohammed, has since
instructed CEO Kumar Boodram to check the
roster to identify which workers were on duty
when the incident occurred. Mohammed said yes-
terday that Sookram s family has been asked to
provide the RHA with details of the incident, as
an investigation has been launched.
The incident comes weeks after baby Simeon
Cottle s death five hours after his mother, Quelly
Ann Cottle, underwent a C-section at the Mt
Hope Women s Hospital.
Telling of the tragedy while waiting outside the
San Fernando mortuary yesterday, Baichu said
they were talking at Deosaran s Central workplace
around 7.30 am when he complained of a slight
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 travelling here, but it did not
"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),"
"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 serv-
ices, 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 tended to other patients.
Baichu said Sookram had no known heart con-
dition and 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 any-
"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."
NCRHA: Emergencies a priority
Expressing her displeasure at the incident in a
telephone interview yesterday, Mohammed said
Sookram should have received medical attention
at no cost, as there was no policy which restricts
free healthcare to nationals alone.
"There is no policy that says that any non-
national can be turned away from emergency care
because they are unable to pay. Emergency care
is available to all nationals and non-nationals.
Under no circumstance can anyone be denied
care," she said.
"I have asked for the family to provide us with
the details so that an immediate investigation can
be launched into this. I am very disturbed that
something like this has happened.
"Emergency care is anywhere. Even if you go
to the United States, where you pay for care, if
you go in with an emergency it is free, so it is here
too. It bewilders me how this happened and I am
very angry that is has happened."
Mohammed said the Ministry of Health was
yet to develop a policy with respect to healthcare
for non-nationals for elective and emergency serv-
ices. She said no fees have also been specified for
services at hospitals, therefore all services should
The T&T Transparency Insti-
tute (Transparency) yesterday
expressed disappointment at the
reported actions of First Citizens
in the sale of shares through its
initial public offering (IPO) in
July 2013. It also criticised the
bank s chair, Nyere Alfonso, for
comments she made in relation
to the now controversial share
purchase made by the bank s for-
mer chief risk officer Phillip
"We regret the tarnishing of the
bank s reputation now, given that,
for 20 years, First Citizens has
generally exhibited good gover-
nance, fiscal husbandry, exemplary
leadership and has garnered many
international awards based on that
track record," the group said in an
"We consider unfortunate the
initial response of the chairman
of First Citizens Bank that you
cannot use morals and ethics
because everyone s are different
... No regulatory rule was broken.
Despite this assertion, the former
chief risk officer of First Citizens,
Hassan Phillip Rahaman, was fired
two months after his sale of
659,588 shares in the IPO."
Transparency said the firing of
Rahaman in no way mitigated the
need for answers from First Cit-
izens, Finance Minister Larry
Howai and the T&T Securities
and Exchange Commission.
The group is now seeking
answers to the following:
• Why was there no cap on the
quantity of shares which individual
First Citizens staff and executives
could purchase? This would seem
to be a basic omission given that
the proportion of shares for
approximately 1,700 staff far out-
weighed the allocation for many
thousands of citizens.
• Was there a suggested cap on
the number of shares that
employees of First Citizens could
purchase? If so, why was this rec-
• Did any other staff/executives
purchase any significant number
of shares in the offering?
• Was the source of such funds
for these purchases traceable to
longstanding personal assets?
• Major sales of shares by directors
or senior executives of publicly
traded entities should trigger an
alert at the Securities and
Exchange Commission (SEC), as
well at the entity itself: what
actions were taken on this occa-
The statement ended: "Trans-
parency anticipates that the results
of the Ministry of Finance s inves-
tigation will be made public
promptly. We also urge the min-
ister and the SEC to indicate what
steps will be taken to preserve the
integrity of the stock market and
future IPOs in T&T."
Police at stations in the various
divisions were up to late yesterday
scrambling to mount photographs
of National Security Minister Gary
Griffith on station walls, after receiv-
ing an order to do so from the min-
Police said the order was handed
down by seniors to juniors soon after
a bodyguard assigned to the minister,
who was conducting business at a
station, asked why the minister s pho-
tograph was not up in the charge
The bodyguard, who was there to
license firearms on behalf of the min-
ister and his wife, Nicole Dyer-Grif-
fith, was told by officers on duty that
the police standing orders do not say
a minister s photograph should be
mounted in charge rooms.
But yesterday, Western Division
officers were given oral instructions
from the ministry to put up photos
of Griffith in charge rooms. Photos
were subsequently distributed to var-
ious stations and officers began put-
ting them up.
Contacted by telephone yesterday,
general secretary of the Police Social
and Welfare Association, acting Insp
Michael Seales, said he was upset
that officers were mandated to do
this as there was no such law, adding
they had previously dealt with a sim-
"This is wrong. There were pictures
of Sandy (former minister Brig John
Sandy) and people who read the
Standing Order took it down since
then," Seales said.
"That has to come from additional
orders from the commissioner. By
the Standing Orders it should be the
Prime Minister, Commissioner and
"Unfortunately, they (officers)
won t know why they doing it, and
if they were following the Standing
Orders it would not be there in the
Contacted for comment, Griffith
said, "This comes from the office of
the police, and it is irrelevant to me,
but you can liaise with the commis-
Director of corporate communi-
cations at the ministry, Marcia Hope,
subsequently contacted the Guardian
to say there was no clause that pre-
vented the minister s photo being put
up at police stations.
"He (Griffith) went to a couple of
stations and asked what was hap-
pening and to find out why his photo
was not mounted.
"We asked to undertake it and
mount it in various divisions and we
have been liaising with them."
Acting Police Commissioner
Stephen Williams refused to answer
any questions when contacted yes-
terday, saying he was out of the coun-
Tourist dies after Mt
Hope turns him away
FCB boss for
Griffith's photo goes up in police stations
Guyanese national Vidya Bachu recalls how her
husband died outside the San Fernando General
Hospital's mortuary yesterday.
PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
Standing Order 38 states: "It shall be
the responsibility of the officer in
charge of the division, to ensure that
there is posted in a conspicuous place
of all police stations the following:
a) mission statement
b) code of conduct
c) notices (informing prisoners of their
rights), a framed map of the station
district, framed photographs of the
President, the Commissioner and
the Prime Minister."
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