Police have beefed up security around this country’s lone general hospital following reported threats yesterday to staff by an armed man, claiming he lost a loved one at the health institution.
Chief Executive Officer of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), Dr Dexter James, told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that there was now heightened police security around the facility as well as stepped up security inside the building by QEH in-house guards.
While there was a temporary suspension of visitors yesterday, Dr James denied reports that the QEH had been shut down. “There has been heightened security around the hospital by police and our in-house security. That’s all I have to say,” added the CEO.
The Royal Barbados Police Force today confirmed receiving a report of the armed man making threats inside the hospital. Public Relations Officer, Assistant Superintendent David Welch, said that after becoming aware of the report and being given a description, officers made a search of the hospital compound and its environs, but no one was found.
The bargaining agent for the employees at the QEH is currently monitoring the situation, after a meeting this morning with management. Acting General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), Roslyn Smith, told Barbados TODAY the matter of threats to the lives of staff came up at the meeting while discussing another issue.
Smith said the hospital administration assured the union it was doing everything possible to keep workers safe. “The management promised to look to see how best they can tighten the security. We recognize that they have cameras already in place, and I think it is a case where some of the doors that should be locked are left open. So they are looking now to have an investigation and see how best they can secure the staff at the hospital,” she added.
The acting NUPW general secretary noted that any time there was a threat to human life at any institution, there would be a concern. “However,…we brought it up to (management’s) attention this morning in terms of what is happening and they, as I said, promised to tighten the security. I think they will meet with the staff because they will have a part to play in ensuring that the areas that are supposed to be locked, are locked.”
Smith said in the meantime, the NUPW would be working with the QEH management as the union monitored the situation. She said the hospital’s administration also promised to keep the union updated as matters unfolded.
The trade union representing doctors at the hospital is also seeking clarification on the situation. President of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP), Dr Carlos Chase, told this newspaper he first had to be apprised of exactly what happened before making an informed comment.
Dr Chase promised to provide that comment tomorrow afternoon.