Categorized | Health, Local, News

Denied Pap Smear Test evolves to improved methods but higher cost

Minister of Health, Hon. Colin Riley, Mr. Elijah Silcott, Permanent Secretary, Health & Dr. Michael Owen, Chief Medical Officer

Right here in Montserrat persons in the medical fraternity, and throughout the world, often inform that a Pap Smear Test can save a woman’s life. It can find the earliest signs of cervical cancer. If caught early, the chance of curing cervical cancer is very high. “Younger women are doing it; older women need to do it too…,” quoted from a lively jingle on Radio Montserrat as part of an awareness campaign.

One young resident heeded the advice but she was disappointed. The follow-up to that disappointment is bad and good news, as the medical authority here say that the test will cost more when it is rolled out, but while the process will be the same for patients, there will be the guarantee that the result will be more accurate.

Our investigation began following this young woman’s complaint that she reported for a Pap smear test, money in hand at the St. Johns Clinic for the test was scheduled for Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. She had been given time off from work, waited for over an hour before she was informed by the doctor she could not do the test because the cost had changed and the clinic was not informed about the new cost.

The Montserrat Reporter (TMR) began an immediate investigation and found that other persons had been turned away from the clinic. Several other persons also complained that they had paid for pap smear screenings, and after over a year, they were still waiting for the results.

TMR contacted Dr. Asha Gopal at the St. John clinic who confirmed that the young lady was denied the Pap smear test because of an issue with the cost. “From my point of view, I have not been told what is the new price to do a pap smear test,” the Doctor explained. She added that in the particular case reported on, the clinic was short staffed that day.

Dr. Gopal further advised when questioned, that persons with a high risk factor can access private practice to have their tests done.

The question as to why anyone should be denied a service because a new charge was unknown was taken to the Ministry Health. Permanent Secretary Elijah Silcott confirmed the facts of the complaints and after discussion with the relevant Ministry officials referred to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Michael Owen.

Hon. Minister Colin Riley who happened in while waiting for an interview with the CMO heard the complaint only briefly and had a quick apologetic response. “That is not acceptable,” he said quietly, adding quickly that with such complaints, citizens need to actively pursue their democracy and “give us a chance to practice leadership.”

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Michael Owen in the first instance, apologized for the inconvenience persons encountered. He confirmed that pap smears were not currently being conducted, though not necessarily only for the reasons given. He then explained that the clinics are transitioning from the conventional way of doing pap smears. Dr Owen said the new test would be more reliable but revealed that the price would increase because of the newer and better technology.

Dr. Owen addressed the other concern of persons who had pap smear tests done a year or more ago would be able to have pap smear tests done from next week, when the service becomes available again.

Dr. Owen said he acknowledged that a number of tests were done and considered inadequate. He clarified that the tests were inadequate because of the quality of the test.  He advised that persons who paid for and had pap smear tests done, and had not yet received the results they are advised to write and inform him at the Ministry of Health, Government Headquarters, Brades, Box 24’ to have the matter resolved.

In response to the suggestion that the clinics should check their records and contact such persons, the doctor said he thought while both ideas including were worthwhile he thought the easier one was to have persons contact him.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Minister of Health, Hon. Colin Riley, Mr. Elijah Silcott, Permanent Secretary, Health & Dr. Michael Owen, Chief Medical Officer

Right here in Montserrat persons in the medical fraternity, and throughout the world, often inform that a Pap Smear Test can save a woman’s life. It can find the earliest signs of cervical cancer. If caught early, the chance of curing cervical cancer is very high. “Younger women are doing it; older women need to do it too…,” quoted from a lively jingle on Radio Montserrat as part of an awareness campaign.

One young resident heeded the advice but she was disappointed. The follow-up to that disappointment is bad and good news, as the medical authority here say that the test will cost more when it is rolled out, but while the process will be the same for patients, there will be the guarantee that the result will be more accurate.

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Our investigation began following this young woman’s complaint that she reported for a Pap smear test, money in hand at the St. Johns Clinic for the test was scheduled for Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. She had been given time off from work, waited for over an hour before she was informed by the doctor she could not do the test because the cost had changed and the clinic was not informed about the new cost.

The Montserrat Reporter (TMR) began an immediate investigation and found that other persons had been turned away from the clinic. Several other persons also complained that they had paid for pap smear screenings, and after over a year, they were still waiting for the results.

TMR contacted Dr. Asha Gopal at the St. John clinic who confirmed that the young lady was denied the Pap smear test because of an issue with the cost. “From my point of view, I have not been told what is the new price to do a pap smear test,” the Doctor explained. She added that in the particular case reported on, the clinic was short staffed that day.

Dr. Gopal further advised when questioned, that persons with a high risk factor can access private practice to have their tests done.

The question as to why anyone should be denied a service because a new charge was unknown was taken to the Ministry Health. Permanent Secretary Elijah Silcott confirmed the facts of the complaints and after discussion with the relevant Ministry officials referred to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Michael Owen.

Hon. Minister Colin Riley who happened in while waiting for an interview with the CMO heard the complaint only briefly and had a quick apologetic response. “That is not acceptable,” he said quietly, adding quickly that with such complaints, citizens need to actively pursue their democracy and “give us a chance to practice leadership.”

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Michael Owen in the first instance, apologized for the inconvenience persons encountered. He confirmed that pap smears were not currently being conducted, though not necessarily only for the reasons given. He then explained that the clinics are transitioning from the conventional way of doing pap smears. Dr Owen said the new test would be more reliable but revealed that the price would increase because of the newer and better technology.

Dr. Owen addressed the other concern of persons who had pap smear tests done a year or more ago would be able to have pap smear tests done from next week, when the service becomes available again.

Dr. Owen said he acknowledged that a number of tests were done and considered inadequate. He clarified that the tests were inadequate because of the quality of the test.  He advised that persons who paid for and had pap smear tests done, and had not yet received the results they are advised to write and inform him at the Ministry of Health, Government Headquarters, Brades, Box 24’ to have the matter resolved.

In response to the suggestion that the clinics should check their records and contact such persons, the doctor said he thought while both ideas including were worthwhile he thought the easier one was to have persons contact him.