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No citizen; no care

Maria Bradshaw

No citizen; no care

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THE family of an elderly woman are upset that she was denied health care at a polyclinic even though she has permanent residency status in Barbados.
They told the WEEKEND NATION that the 75-year-old woman, who has been an outpatient at the polyclinic for several years, turned up for an appointment last week but was told she would not be able to see a doctor because she had no citizenship status.
“We were shocked and we asked what was going on but all they said was that she did not have citizenship, so she could not see the doctor,” said the woman’s upset sister, who explained that at the time they were in possession of her Barbados identification card.
She pointed out that her sister was visually impaired and a diabetic.
“All of her notes are at the polyclinic. All of her medical history. How can you turn away someone who has been living here for over 55 years and has worked hard and paid all of her taxes,” the woman’s sister cried.
She explained that her elderly sister came to Barbados from St Lucia when she was very young and subsequently obtained permanent residency status.
The woman said while she was aware of changes to the Health Care Act, she never understood it to mean that people such as her sister would not qualify for free health care and medication.
Another St Lucian resident who also has permanent residency said she was informed that 11 people were turned away from the same polyclinic in one day even though they too had permanent residency status.
“They turned them away saying that they would have to have citizenship.
“And one of my friends went the next day to the Immigration Department to apply for citizenship and she was told that it could take as long as three years before she receives those papers. So what are we supposed to do?,” she cried.
Minister of Health Donville Inniss said he was not aware that polyclinics were turning away people who had permanent residency.
But he stressed that such people also had to provide proof of their status at the polyclinic.
“Anybody can get a Barbados identification card. They have to bring the proof to the polyclinic that they have permanent residency status and it will be placed on their file.
“Once it is in the system they would not have to bring the proof each time they attend.”
Inniss said he has spoken extensively on the issue since October, that there should be no misunderstanding.
He reiterated that in addition to those who qualified by way of their immigration status, people in need of emergency care as well as those who were HIV positive would not be denied access to free health care.