The Ministry of Health wishes to address the matter of Island Health Services letter to dialysis patients to inform that they had suspended services to them, due to Government’s failure to remit timely payments for the months of March and April, 2020.   The Ministry wishes to, first and foremost, apologise for the miscommunication and any inconvenience and discomfort that this unfortunate situation has brought to patients and families.

Secondly, the following facts must be made clear:  The Ministry has always been an open partner with the Kidney Foundation and the IHS, in delivering dialysis services to patients. The Ministry understands that for many families, the costs of dialysis treatment can be prohibitive, and as such, we have invested resources to assist accordingly, in a timely and consistent manner.  Further, at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, the Ministry reached out to Mr. Trevor Forrester, owner of IHS, to ascertain the company’s status as it relates to the procurement of supplies. At the time, the Minister was also in communication with several of the patients who expressed concern about IHS’s ability to access supplies, in light of the then looming pandemic.

After speaking with Mr. Forrester, and understanding the challenges of getting supplies to Grenada, the Ministry moved to assist through the use of the RSS aircraft, as well as Amerijet, to expedite the transfer of IHS’s outstanding supplies to Grenada, thus minimising inconvenience to patients, as well as to the company.  The Ministry also moved to ensure that the necessary cheques for IHS were prepared for collection.  To be clear, the Ministry accepts responsibility in not ensuring that the cheques were collected or delivered sooner, as our attention was focused on safeguarding Grenada from the onslaught of COVID-19.  As recent as earlier this week, the Ministry was assured that the Kidney Foundation had reached out to Mr. Forrester to explain that there was a delay in some of the payments because, due to the lockdown, their thrift shop was closed and they were also unable to collect the cheques from Government—although they were informed that the cheques had been prepared on time.

To learn, therefore, that the IHS refused services to patients on account of not having received the cheques from Government, was a surprise and a matter of grave concern for the ministry of Health.

While we acknowledge that there was some level of miscommunication and lapse, and that the payments are necessary to help ensure that the patients receive the necessary services, we also believe that a better solution could have been found, to prevent undue suffering to individuals who are dependent on dialysis to stay alive.   Open lines of communication have always been facilitated among the three partners in this initiative, Island Health services, the Government of Grenada and the Kidney Foundation.

The Ministry reiterates its commitment to the partnership and to working together to solve problems for the benefit of all concerned.  The Ministry further reaffirms its commitment to providing subsidies to individuals for the receipt of dialysis services, and as an advocate for lower costs of those services.  As such, the Ministry will like to inform that we have now re-initiated the installation of the Dialysis Unit at Phase Two of the General Hospital, which was suspended, like all other construction projects, during the lockdown period, as we worked to curb the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus here in Grenada. We expect that this project will be completed in the next four to six weeks, to further assist patients and families in their struggle to meet the costs of dialysis.

Since the IHS letter, we have been in communication with the Kidney Foundation to facilitate the collection of the cheques for Mr. Forrester, and we look forward, as the patients do, to the resumption of the services soonest.  We emphasise our commitment to partnership in this venture, and we will continue to work with Mr. Trevor Forrester and IHS to ensure timely and smooth delivery of services.