It is indeed gratifying to be back here at Mary Charles Hospital 23
months to the day since my Government officially unveiled a brand-new
hospital for all the people in the Keys to Saddlers Medical District.
In the 23 months since the reopening of this brand new Hospital, my
Team Unity Government has shown that it is serious about delivering
primary healthcare services.
In these 23 months since we last held a ceremony here at Mary Charles
Hospital, we have opened more doors to accessible, community-based
and comprehensive healthcare.
Significant Improvement in Health Care
Notably, my Government opened the first Oncology (cancer care and
treatment) Unit at the JNF General Hospital on December 6 th , 2016. One
day earlier, the Mental Health Day Treatment Centre (now named the Dr.
Arthur W. Lake Mental Health Day Treatment Centre) had its soft
opening on December 5 th , 2016. We heard the cries of those suffering
from cancer. We heard how treatment was a bother and a matter of
Last December, on World AIDS Day, the World Health Organization
validated St. Kitts and Nevis as having eliminated mother-to-child
transmission of HIV and syphilis. We are among the first to have
received that validation and we will work to maintain such status.
Furthermore, this past February, my Government officially launched the
National Health Insurance Commission, setting the stage for cradle-to-
grave insurance coverage regardless of age, employment, income or pre-
Today, we have come back to Mary Charles Hospital, further cementing
our commitment and delivering on our promise to provide all of you with
state-of-the-art healthcare that is on par with the other medical districts.
It was a grave injustice perpetuated from Martin to Herbert to Marcella
Liburd in a staunch apathy to improve healthcare offered by the Mary
My Team Unity Government and I are delighted to be here to re-
commission (put back in service) the Dental Clinic and EMT/Ambulance
Service at Mary Charles Hospital.
For the first time in many years, Mary Charles and the patients it serves
have their own EMT/ambulance and dental services. It is hard to
understand why the past administration led by a Medical Doctor caused
the people from Keys to Saddlers to suffer by willfully denying us access
to ambulance service at this facility.
We brought a solution into being. People matter most to us because we
are a people-centred government. We are genuinely a government
reflecting the will of the people. Equal concern over the care and support
of persons with mental challenges caused us to bring such a facility into
being, not only for the sick but also to relieve the burden on their
families. All these things we are doing because we care. We are a Team
With the addition of this new 24-hour dispatch point, which will be based
permanently at Mary Charles, my Government has brought an ambulance
closer to the people of the Keys to Saddlers Medical District.
Importance of Ambulance Service
What this means is that an ambulance will get to you a lot quicker during
an emergency. What’s more, starting today, medical assistance will no
longer be dangerously distant.
From this day forward, for the expectant mom who awakens at 3 o’ clock
in the morning gripped by contractions that signal an impending birth,
your ambulance service is just around the corner. Thanks to your Unity
For the elderly dad whose adult son finds him in bed incapacitated by a
stroke, your ambulance service is just around the corner. Thanks to your
For the epileptic child, the heart attack patient, the vehicular accident
victim, and countless other persons in need of speedy medical care in this
medical district, your ambulance service is just around the corner.
Thanks to your Unity Government.
Your Team Unity Government has brought this EMT/Ambulance Service
to fruition, knowing that a quicker ambulance response time is a life-and-
death matter and knowing that it can further improve upon our
Federation’s relatively high life expectancy rate, which stands at 76
This new EMT/Ambulance Service at Mary Charles Hospital is expected
to help the Ministry of Health fulfill a number of its stated strategic
objectives, such as its goal of reducing the infant mortality rate. Our
infant mortality rate stands at 17 per 1,000 live births and our goal is to
reduce it to 12 per 1,000 live births.
Therefore, the pregnant woman who wakes up at 3 o’clock in the
morning facing an unexpected delivery two months early has a much
brighter outlook for her and her baby now that an ambulance is stationed
24/7 at Mary Charles Hospital.
With such an important mandate of protecting and prolonging life, the
Ministry of Health is ensuring that its EMT personnel receives relevant
and updated ongoing in-house training, as well as other continuing
educational opportunities. Let me make the point that we value the work
of all healthcare workers and we are reviewing proposals to improve your
lot including that of the EMT workers.
Equally exciting is the other reason we are here today. This new dental
unit at the Mary Charles Hospital expands upon the Ministry of Health’s
oral health programme by bringing oral health screening and treatment
services to the people of the Keys to Saddlers Medical District.
With fee exemption granted to the disabled, as well as persons over the
age of 62 and children, including those who are up to 18 years old and are
still in school, the Unit will widen access to dental care.
The unit is also expected to fulfill strategic objectives in relation to oral
healthcare, such as reducing the local incidence of dental missing and
filled teeth (DMFT) from 50% to 30% among the five to 15 years age
group. Today, my Team Unity Government sends the message that
we want tooth loss to be eliminated in this generation.
A Proud Record
We are a caring government, and the election losers would want you to
believe that we have not been doing anything to advance your health.
The truth is as early as two months into our tenure, we removed the 17%
VAT off of food and medical expenses – the 17% VAT that they
callously introduced in 2010, impeding poor people’s ability to feed their
family a nutritious, well-balanced diet.
The election losers would want you to believe that we do not care about
our nurses nor acknowledge the splendid work that they do. For the
record we care about our nurses, our doctors and all health care workers.
The election losers do not want you to know the truth, which is that staff
members at JNF fully support the pilot 12-hour shift on both the Surgical
Ward and Intensive Care Unit that was recently implemented to address
some staffing issues. A unanimous decision was taken to pilot the 12-
hour shift during a staff meeting at JNF on July 6 th .
The election losers do not want you to know that 12-hour nursing shifts
have become the norm in developed countries such as the United States
and the United Kingdom. St Kitts and Nevis will never be last in the
class of progressive entities. We are leaders.
Indeed, research coming out of the United States finds that most hospitals
in the U.S. operate on 12-hour nursing shifts because they are easier for
administrators to manage, and nurses like them and patient care is more
efficiently and beneficially delivered.
The election losers would also want you to believe that preference is
being shown to recruit non-national nurses. However, the stark reality is
that the recruitment of nurses from the Philippines, for instance, is
necessary to fill gaps that exist in the nursing field. And when it comes
to the treatment and care of our people, no boundary shall constrain us.
We will do what is necessary to help the poor among us. And we will
offer quality service.
The stark reality is that, across the world, health institutions require more
personnel not less.
While many talented doctors like Dr. Cameron Wilkinson, our Medical
Chief of Staff at the JNF General Hospital, and Dr. Hazel Laws, our
Chief Medical Officer, have come back to serve their country after
having successful careers abroad, there are many young Kittitian and
Nevisian doctors and nurses to name who are practicing medicine and
running hospitals abroad. It is our hope in due time they will find
circumstances propitious to return home.
I take this opportunity to heartily congratulate Dr. Marijka Grey, MD,
FACP, who was recently named president of CHI Memorial Medical
Group in Tennessee, USA.
Dr. Grey’s remarkable career trajectory has made her country very proud.
She is one more talented citizen on whom we will call.
In closing, I give highest commendations to the Minister of Health, the
Hon. Eugene Hamilton and the Senator with responsibility for Health, the
Hon. Wendy Phipps. I also commend the Chief Medical Officer, the
Medical Chief of Staff at JNF, as well as other hospital administrators
who work closely with them for finding creative solutions to meet our
staffing and other needs. I welcome Mrs. Delores Harris to the office of
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and wish her well.
The leadership in the Ministry of Health has never been at a higher
caliber than it is now, and today’s ceremony to recommission (put back in
service) the Dental Clinic and EMT/Ambulance Service at Mary Charles
Hospital is testament to this.