Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of critical medication for patients, including those with terminal illnesses such as cancer, have been stolen from the pharmacy at the St James Medical Complex (SJMC).
In an immediate response to this “tragedy” that struck the health institution, acting chief executive officer at the North West Regional Health (NWRHA), Terron Gilchrist condemned the act and questioned, “Why would someone want to take God out of their thoughts and steal medicine for the survival of sick people?”
Speaking with the Guardian Media on Wednesday, Gilchrist assured that the pharmacy had not been severely affected in dispersing drugs for in and out-patients as they had restocked, “enabling the operations to continue smoothly.”
The incident occurred sometime on Sunday where the suspect or suspects gained entry to the building by prying open a padlock of a burglar proof gate at the back of the building.
The wooden cupboards in the pharmacy department were ransacked and the drugs were stolen. Photos of the bare cupboards and opened lock were shared with Guardian Media.
A staff member, who spoke to Guardian Media under strict anonymity, said the theft came after days the pharmacy was fully restocked and believed it was “a possible inside job”.
The staff member also alleged that there was a break-in under similar circumstances in March.
Guardian Media sent a subsequent message to Gilchrist informing him of the claims made by the staff member and about the burglary in March, however, up to press time no further comment was given.
Gilchrist during the interview said the facility will soon get a technological upgrade for security reasons including the installation of “CCTV surveillance cameras, etc.”
NWRHA’s acting manager of corporate communications, Anesa Alleyne, in a release issued last evening, confirmed that “a host of drugs for the treatment of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD’s) and infectious diseases were missing.”
“In addressing the incident, the Authority has reviewed its current security measures at the pharmacy department and plans are in progress to improve the security infrastructure at the St James Medical Complex,” the release stated.
“The management of the NWRHA condemns this heinous act against vulnerable patients accessing care at the St. James Medical Complex,” it added.
The Authority said it remain committed to providing a safe and secure environment for all our employees, patients and persons visiting the SJMC and all institutions under its purview.
The SJMC is the home to the National Radiotherapy Centre, The Women’s Health Clinic and Eye Clinic. It has a 97-bed capacity and also houses an accident and emergency department which provides 24-hour emergency medical treatment, a gerontology ward, a physical medicine and rehabilitation unit, a therapeutic care unit and the NWRHA’S Learning Resource Centre.
Support services include pharmacy, radiology and laboratory services.
An investigating police officer from the St James Police Station confirmed that a man in his 20’s has been detained for questioning.
Reporter: Rhondor Dowlat