Doctor, suspended on complaint of sexual harassment, is main suspect in GPHC fire

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A doctor attached to the country’s main hospital is the main suspect in a fire that could have had catastrophic consequences if it was not brought under control on January 1.

A source told the News Room that the doctor works in the cardiology department of the Georgetown Public Hospital and was sent on leave last Friday, December 31, over a complaint made by a female member of the department. She complained that the doctor, who is her superior, was sexually harassing her via telephone calls and messages.

The doctor was arrested on Tuesday but was released on bail.

Investigators suspected the doctor to be the one who set fire to the echocardiography laboratory at the hospital from CCTV footage. Had the fire spread, it would have proved deadly as the laboratory is located within close distance to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and other critical units.

What is left after an early-morning fire ripped through the echocardiography laboratory at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) (Photo: DPI/ January 1, 2021)

The CCTV camera showed the suspect heading to the department via a backdoor. The laboratory itself does not have a camera. But the doctor is seen in the general area acting suspicious, including peeping here and there as if to make sure no one could see him entering the department.

What added to the suspicion of investigators was the conflicting stories the doctor told detectives. He said he was at the hospital that night because he was on the night shift into New Year’s morning when the fire was noticed. However, he was sent on leave Friday and was not required to report for duty.

Further, he told the Police he was at the hospital because his mother became ill. However, that did not add up, because the fire started before sunrise and he only took his mother to the hospital sometime after four in the afternoon.

Police are continuing their investigations.

The echocardiography (ECG) machine was destroyed in the fire and it will cost at least $20 million to be replaced.

The machine is used quite often to provide routine heart tests for patients. While another is being procured, there will be a reduction in the services that can be offered to patients.

A fire ripped through the echocardiography laboratory at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC)

The Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony, had noted that the local health authorities had planned to restart a children’s cardiac programme but without this machine, that programme would now be delayed by several months.

Dr. Anthony lauded the quick action from the nurses on duty since they detected the fire quickly and were able to save 11 patients, including those who are critically ill.

There were seven patients in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and four more in another ICU. Some of these patients were unable to move by themselves and were directly impacted by the cloud of smoke emanating from the burning laboratory.

Had the nurses not been able to move the patients quickly, Dr. Anthony said that they could have been harmed if the fire had spread to their ICUs.

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