A&B: MOULD, MILDEW, RATS PLAGUE MEDICAL STORES

By Claneisha Gomes

The condition of a rodent-infested building where most of the nation’s medical supplies are stored has placed the health of staff at risk and could very well compromise millions of dollars worth of vital medication.

On Monday, seven of the 10 employees of the Central Medical Stores on Old Parham Road walked out of the Hancom West Building in protest of the mildewed and mould-infested structure.

For them, it’s been a near decade-old cry, and correspondence dating back to 2009 has chronicled, in detail, the poor working conditions under which they are forced to perform their duties.

The employees said they refused to work since little progress had been made in ridding the building of the fungus that lined walls and floors, the mouldy storage units and the proliferation of rodents throughout the facility.

Another major complaint is the non-functioning air conditioning unit.

The workers said the lack of proper ventilation presents a health hazard, especially for those who are asthmatic.

Last week, a staff member was taken to hospital with a severe cough, and was treated for respiratory distress believed to have been triggered by the poorly ventilated building.

One of the employees, who spoke to OBSERVER media on the condition of anonymity, disclosed that the non-functioning AC unit also presented a hazard for the potency of the various medicines which ought be stored at cold temperatures.

The disgruntled workers also reported that there is insufficient space to unload the containers of medical supplies, which are then left exposed to the elements.

Pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and patient records for Antigua & Barbuda’s clinics, pharmacies and hospitals are kept in the building.

The 15,000 square foot facility is owned by the Hadeed family and, according to the lease agreement, the government currently pays EC $52,500 in rent each month for the structure. (The Daily Observer)

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