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Oct 26, 2022

Chaos at K.H.M.H! Shortage of Equipment, Medicine and Manpower

The Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital is facing extremely difficult times as the national referral facility. Employees are dissatisfied with existing working conditions; there is also a severe lack of basic supplies, as well as a constant stream of resignation by nurses and doctors on staff. It all came to a head this morning when the K.H.M.H. Workers Union convened a press conference to air out the management of the hospital, as well as the Ministry of Health and Wellness. The executive of the labor organization laid bare the situation at hand and while some of it is being described as exaggerated, a grim picture is being painted about the services being offered at the hospital.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Darwin Slusher

Darwin Slusher, Accident & Emergency Unit, K.H.M.H.

“It takes me five minutes or so to get a vein, administer the IV therapy.  On one particular shift, I timed on my phone, it took me twenty-five minutes to gather equipment to start an IV on a bleeding gunshot patient.  Twenty-five minutes.  At twenty-five minutes, I could have already put a Foley catheter, administered oxygen, give analgesics, attach a cardiac monitor, get an EKG, control bleeding But twenty-five minutes.”


The situation at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital is dire.


Andrew Baird

Andrew Baird, President, K.H.M.H. Workers Union

“If we haffu di resuscitate, and for the people who do not understand what is resuscitate, when we di do CPR we have wah bag weh we use to breathe air into the person.  There are different sizes. There are adults, there are neonates, there are pediatrics. But at this time, we have to use a pediatric for an adult to resuscitate, to resuscitate an adult. That’s death.”


The national referral facility is teetering on the verge of collapse where the delivery of primary healthcare service is concerned.


Andrew Baird

“The patients, the users of the institution continue to suffer. The staff of the institution is being asked to carry water in a basket. This cannot continue, we will stand no more in silence and these needs and concerns of the K.H.M.H. must be addressed now.  People will die.  The politicians cannot continue to play politics with the lives our Belizean citizens.  There is a failure in the health system that needs to be addressed.”


The breakdown, according to the K.H.M.H. Workers Union, is the result of complete disregard by the present administration. That responsibility is being placed squarely at the feet of the political directorate, as well as the K.H.M.H.  Authority.


Andrew Baird

“Seventy-six million dollars could have afforded us a CT Scan new brand, not refurbished.  At this time we would have already had it in-house and to correct all the ills that we have with our supply chains and stuff.  Seventy-six million dollars could have seen more people receiving dialysis treatment.  Seventy-six million dollars could have refurbished the leaking roof in the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital.”


The figure being emphasized is the dollar amount that the Briceño administration has agreed to compensate the principals of Belize International Services Limited, roughly nine years after the company was compulsorily acquired by the previous government.  The K.H.M.H. Workers Union contends that those monies could have been invested in the failing public health sector.


Tylon Tillett

Tylon Tillett, Communications Officer, K.H.M.H.

“This is a cry for help. This is a cry for awareness to the public so that the public understands what is happening. It seems that in this country, the only way that you can get headway at times is to apply pressure to the system so that the system acts right so that people can get the resources that they need to conduct their jobs.”


But what exactly does the hospital staff need, besides a laundry list of essentials, including gloves, masks and other basic items?  As stated by the president of the workers union, they are also seeking a sense of worthiness.


Andrew Baird

“There is a sense of unworthiness amongst the staff at Karl Heusner. There is a sense of “don’t want to come to work.” There is a sense when we come to work, how am I going to do my job.  In accordance with the labor  law, an employer must provide material for the employee to work.  If we can’t have simple things like gloves to work, how do they expect our performance?”


Isani Cayetano for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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