While stitching a cut on the hand of a 75-year-old farmer, whose hand was caught in his gate while working, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man.
Eventually the topic got around to politicians and their role as our leaders.
The farmer said, "Well, as I see it, most politicians are 'post turtles'.''
Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a 'post turtle' was.
The old farmer said, "When you're driving down a road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle."
The old farmer saw the puzzled look on the doctor's face so he continued to explain. "You know he didn't get up there by himself, he doesn't belong up there, he doesn't know what to do while he's up there, he's elevated beyond his ability to function, and you just wonder what kind of dumb fool put him up there to begin with."
Ruminating on the reality of post turtles currently in the public domain I could think of no better example than the following:
Last week, one of the evening news shows sent an undercover camera into the General Hospital to show the public just how bad things were for patients, and the shortage of beds was highlighted as the major issue plaguing the institution. People were shown sleeping on chairs, benches and floors, with family members and visitors huddled over trying to make a space for their loved ones. In response and as explanation, the minister of health told the nation that the reason that a bed shortage exists in the hospital is because people go there for treatment and refuse to leave, or that families drop their elderly and infirm off and never come back for them.
Really, Mr Minister?
Now, I am not saying that they may not be some truth to what he is saying, but did he really think this through before bringing such a silly excuse to the public? Surely he has to be aware as to how inept it made him appear to break the failure of the $4.5 billion ministry of health to bed squatting, and the fact that he did not include when exactly over his term in office that he and they were made aware that bed squatting was crippling the hospital, what the plans were to combat the scourge, or how soon they intend to embark upon rectifying it made him look less the manager that we all assumed him to be.
But before we go forward, bigger questions have to be asked, questions such as, when a patient is discharged after treatment, can they refuse to go? And what are the options available to hospital management then? What are the legal ramifications and precedents here? Can anyone choose a bed anywhere, claim it as their own and live there permanently? Can this be done at private hospitals as well? Hotels? Or does this only apply to the General Hospital?
If the nation was not at one time dealing with the distraction of the Constitutional Amendment Bill while waiting to get down into the meat of the organised rape that Lifesport is appearing to be, then surely this minister would be in the hot seat right now trying to defend the level of ineptitude that allows our health care sector to be run this way, and I daresay, perhaps as affable and as nice a guy as the minister is, that perhaps he might not be the right man for the job.
Personally I refuse to accept the minister’s explanations and reject it out of hand. This is at worst a mid-level management issue, at best a floor supervisor’s job and not a problem that should be allowed to force other patients to sleep on the floor nor require a minister of government to be making silly excuses.
A glaring example of mismanagement and in light of all the other public building shut downs, what might be the situation should the Public Services Association apply the same yardstick it applied to the Immigration Department and other government buildings to the General Hospital?
Would the hospital be shut down and literally put lives at risk in the name of saving lives?
It is an indictment against us the voting public that we have not called for the resignation of the hospital administrator and insist that a care taking management team be installed with the mandate to reverse this horrific state of affairs within a specific and reasonable time-frame.
We cannot be spending the equivalent of the entire national budget of Grenada on health care and our people have to settle for their loved ones sleeping on the floor. One percent of this ministry's budget could build a multi-story hostel complete with bed space for the abandoned if the ministry and minister were so inclined, so why allow such nonsense into the public domain?
I put to the minister of health that his excuse is simply not good enough and that it is time that public institutions be repositioned in service of the people who own them, and if those who are placed in charge cannot deliver, then they need to be replaced by those who can.
Phillip Edward Alexander