Deceased's father rejects findings by Dr Cummings
Stabroek News
December 4, 2001

Rahamatoola Kassim, the father of Shahabodeen Kassim who was shot by armed bandits two Saturdays ago and subsequently died at the New Amsterdam Hospital has refuted statements made by Chief Medical Officer, Dr Rudolph Cummings, about the timeliness of the medical care afforded his son at the institution.

The CMO in a statement, part of which was published in this newspaper last week, said he could not find "any gaps in the medical care" of the wounded man at the hospital on the evening of Saturday, November 24. The 25-year-old father of one was shot in his buttocks when two armed bandits invaded his parents' business premises at Vryheid Village, West Canje, Berbice shortly after 6:00 pm.

The parents and relatives of the young man bemoaned the delay he encountered in receiving attention after he arrived at the institution around 6:30 pm. Dr Cummings' findings were included in a report dated November 25, following an investigation ordered by Health Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy.

According to the CMO, Kassim was seen by an orthopaedic and a general surgeon "in a timely manner." Abdominal surgery, he said, was contemplated but the patient died at 9:15 pm, before it could have been performed.

Yesterday, the deceased's father told Stabroek News that he rejected the CMO's statement that his son was seen in a timely manner. The businessman called for a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his son's demise at the institution.

He reiterated that he arrived at the hospital at 7:00 pm after he received the news that something had occurred at his home. "On arrival at the hospital, we learnt that there was no doctor on duty. However, shortly after a junior doctor arrived and ordered blood and saline and instructed that a laboratory technician be summoned," he recounted. "At approximately 7:45 pm an orthopaedic surgeon arrived but was unable to do anything much."

According to Kassim, his cousin, former assistant Ccmmissioner of police, Sultan Kassim, and a few close relatives went to the home of the general surgeon a short distance away but were informed that he was not at home. "Some of the nurses on duty apparently knew where he was and eventually made contact with him. He arrived at the hospital at around 8:40 pm. We enquired from the general surgeon whether my son could have travelled but were told he could not." Arrangements had been made for the wounded man to be flown to Georgetown by a GDF helicopter.

A source at the hospital had told this newspaper that the wounded man was taken to the operating theatre at 8:55 pm after arriving at the Accident and Emergency Unit at around 6:30 pm. According to the source, he was bleeding profusely from the wound in his lower back.

Ramsammy in a press statement last Tuesday recommended administrative changes at the hospital saying he had found it unacceptable that it took more than two hours for a surgeon to respond to an emergency.

Meanwhile, two men who were held by the police last Monday following the murder were released over the weekend as the police continue to grapple with the investigations.

Another man who was held last Monday night in connection with the robbery committed on a Caracas Village woman was also released by the police. The man was reportedly held with a toy gun shortly after the robbery in the vicinity of the Industrial Site. The two men were placed on $25,000 station bail last Friday afternoon.

And last Thursday, the police held five identification parades at the New Amsterdam Police Station, involving some 50 individuals.

The men were held in a massive police exercise around the town, which drew much public criticism. However, Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner, Paul Slowe, said the exercise was conducted within the confines of the law and was a valid part of the police investigations.

Stabroek News understands that charges were expected to be laid against the alleged perpetrators of the two crimes some time between yesterday and today. However, it was not clear if the men to be charged would include those who were held and released over the weekend.