Letter to the Editor: The absolute need for an oncology department in Freeport

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Dear Sirs/Madam,

As a resident of Grand Bahama I would like to emphasize that there are many pressing health concerns for the island; some of which have been ongoing for some time and need a solution.

The pressing issue of a safe, functioning, major health care facility is of paramount importance. While we do have some clinics, they are not capable of providing (emergency) health care for the masses.

It is my humble opinion that this should be corrected post haste. A new state of the art, multi-storeyed, facility should be constructed to meet the needs of Grand Bahama Island.

Another concern sir, is the establishment of an oncology centre on Grand Bahama. There are many cancer patients here on the island that have to trek to Nassau for treatment. It is an expensive endeavour to go back and forth for treatment, clinic visits, exams not provided here etc. If you have no family members in Nassau, it becomes more costly to include airfare, hotel & food and vehicle expenses. There are some NGO’s that would assist with travel cost, however, they cannot secure travel continuously throughout a patients treatment period.

An example of post-Dorian health impediments for cancer patients would include an incident that recently happened at the RMH. The lab at RMH is not functioning, therefore, the lab works are being outsourced to the Lucayan medical centre. The lab works are not back in a timely fashion, so as to be available for Nassau Oncology department to view in the system, the patient is then disenfranchised by having to cancel or have a treatment rescheduled.

It is unclear to most here in GB, why there is not an oncology department here as we have a large number of patients that have to go to Nassau for treatment. This present government has said that it will be ‘looking’ at this point but recently…nothing has been done or said. It seems as if an oncology department has been put on the back burner again and no hope is in sight for our cancer patients.

We can elaborate with harrowing stories of patients having to go to Nassau for treatments etc however, due to financial circumstances, they cannot afford too. This disease and the maintenance of it is costly!

We beseech the Government of the Bahamas, The Minister of Health, Dr. Duane Sands and the Administrators of the Rand Memorial Hospital to seek the best avenue by which to implement this department in Grand Bahama. To finally alleviate this burden on cancer patients, of having to hustle their way into Nassau for treatments that could very well be done right here, as we have competent Doctors and Nurses to feed an Oncology department.

Sign,

Portia Ebrahim