The Senate has requested the Minister of Health and Members of the Board of Directors of the John F. Kennedy Hospital (JFK), to fully implement in 90 days, the recently passed amended JFK Law, which among other things, calls for new leadership at that referral hospital.
The Senate decision came through a motion by Nimba County Senator Thomas S. Grupee, a splendid power-point presentation by Health Minister and Chairperson of the JFK board Madam Bernice Dahn; and a lengthy period of grilling by the Senate Plenary.
The motion by Senator Grupee who chairs the committee on Internal Affairs, Governance and Reconciliation, also requested the Peter Coleman-chaired committee on Health, Gender, and Social Welfare to arrange and carry out a tour of the facilities of the JFK, which according to
Minister Dahn, is currently undergoing major renovations at the cost of US$30 million.
Also, the high-powered four-member board delegation to last week’s presentation in the Chambers of the Senate, which included JFK Administrator Madam Wvannie Scott McDonald, was requested to address the exorbitant fees reportedly paid by patients for their treatment at that hospital.
During her presentation, Minister Dahn disclosed that the Board is already implementing some aspects of the new JFK Act, and told the lawmakers that the transition is a process that needs careful and thorough planning.
“We want to put a system in place so that any team that will take over administration of the JFK will continue from where we may stop, and will not have to start from scratch,” Minister Dahn said.
Minister Dahn clarified that as long as those calling themselves members of the Health Workers Association of Liberia are willing to remain within the borders of professionalism as medical practitioners who took the oath to protect lives, she will work with them, but not as a union, emphasizing that politics must be taken out of the hospitals and medical centers.
The JFK Administrator Dr. McDonald, who formed part of the delegation to the Senate, told Senators that the initial amount of US$4.2 million used to jump start the first renovation of the JFK in 40 years, was money realized from fees charged patients treated at the Center over a two-year period.
The latest decision by the Senate that brought Minister Dahn and her board to the Senate, was based on a communication from Montserrado County Senator Geraldine Doe-Sherif, in which she recounted the difficulties financially depressed ordinary citizens go through at the JFK to get services such as laboratory analyses, which she said sometimes takes a week.
Senator Doe-Sherif’s concerns were buttressed by Grand Kru County Senator and chairman on Health Committee Peter Coleman, who warned that pressure must be brought to bear on the Chairman of the board who happens to be the Minister of Health, to ensure that the amended JFK law that was passed, is implemented.
“We are not going to go anywhere and our people will continue to suffer. There is a need for a change of administration at the JFK and the way it is run,” Senator Sheriff said.
Meanwhile, the Senate has closed for its annual constituency break, and will return in the second week of January, 2017.