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University Hospital of the West Indies boss resigns; first casualty after baby deaths

Published:Monday | October 26, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The chief executive officer of the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), Dr Cecil White, is the first casualty from the deaths of 18 babies at the UHWI and the Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James, from infections caused by outbreaks of the klebsiella and serratia bacteria.

The Gleaner has been reliably informed that he resigned with immediate effect yesterday and that his will not be the only head on the chopping block. Another senior member of the management team is expected to resign today, impeccable sources say.

When contacted last night, White seemed surprised that the information had reached this newspaper. Both White and Permanent Secretary Dr Kevin Harvey deferred comment and would only refer The Gleaner to the chairman of the board of the hospital, Sterling Soares. Calls to Soares' phone went unanswered.

White, who has been CEO of the UHWI since April 2014, served as the hospital's representative on the boards of three related organisations and is adjunct faculty member at the Mona School of Business. He was senior vice-president of operations and corporate planning at the National Health Fund for 11 years up to his appointment as head honcho at the teaching hospital.

He is also a certified project manager and lay magistrate.


Ferguson under fire

Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson had come under pressure after news of the death of the babies broke and he admitted that he had only heard of the situation on the same day that it was reported. Individuals and groups, including the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party, called for him to resign, but Ferguson remained defiant saying that his actions, since the time he was advised of the situation, "represented what could have best been done".

READ: TIMELINE - The #DeadBabiesScandal ... How the hospitals responded

Ferguson was reported by this newspaper last Friday as saying, "The press release from the board of the University Hospital confirms that there was a breach of protocol, and as a result, there was failure to communicate at different levels." He said further, "When I was informed of the situation Friday, I did everything that a minister could have done."

In the meantime, The Gleaner understands that Soares has been summoned to appear before the Office of the Public Defender today to answer questions on the matter.