Newsday was told yesterday that Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan intervened last month to stave off a million dollar lawsuit which Chester-Cumberbatch had threatened SWRHA with.

Contacted yesterday, Khan confirmed that he met with the sacked CEO and negotiated a settlement “that was both in the interest of SWRHA, Mrs Chester-Cumberbatch and the health sector”.

Chester-Cumberbatch shot into the limelight in March last year when she was fired from the CEO post, after the doctors and nurses were suspended in the death of Couva mother Chrystal Ramsumair, 28, who bled to death after giving birth at San Fernando General Hospital. Following Ramsumair’s death, the then minister of Health Therese Baptiste-Cornelis, had announced at a press conference that the doctors and nurses had been suspended. She repeated the announcement in the Senate the following day.

But the doctors and nurses had not received their suspension letters and Baptiste-Cornelis ordered an investigation to determine why. Days later on March 16, SWRHA’s chairman, Dr Lackram Bodoe announced Chester-Cumberbatch’s dismissal as CEO at a press conference.

On March 16, Chester-Cumberbatch, 48, who was trained at John Hopkins University in public health management, was handed her letter of dismissal and escorted to her office to collect her belongings before leaving SWRHA’s compound, Paradise Pasture, San Fernando. She threatened legal action over her dismissal and Newsday learned that recently, attorneys for the former CEO informed SWRHA of their intention to sue over the dismissal. Chester-Cumberbatch’s salary when she assumed the position of CEO in 2009, was approximately $23,000. The contract of the medical chief of staff at the time, Dr Anand Chatoorgoon, was also not renewed.

Khan told Newsday yesterday that he intervened in the dismissal of Chester-Cumberbatch in meetings between SWRHA and the former CEO. “Yes I intervened, and I’m pleased that an agreement has been reached in which Ms Chester-Cumberbatch is to be paid.

“The former CEO who is eminently qualified in health management, is employed with the ministry and recently completed a comprehensive report on primary health care upgrade for health facilities in the eastern region.”

The Chester-Cumberbatch report, the minister added, would see the Mayaro and Arima district health facilities being upgraded so that much needed blood tests and X- rays, would be done.

Contacted yesterday, Bodoe said, “The Minister intervened in the matter and SWRHA acted in accordance with the direction of the Honourable Minister.”

When contacted, Chester-Cumberbatch declined to comment, saying that she would prefer if Health Minister Khan released such information.

But Newsday was informed that Chester-Cumberbatch has been paid gratuity and nine months salary as part of the settlement package.



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