Cathy Gomez unjustly treated

There are many of you out there who know my daughter, Cathy Gomez, former chief operating officer at the George Town Hospital and you would therefore know that she would not wish to be in the public eye.

However, I write this with deep emotions and tears, concerning the injustice that has been done her after giving 31 years and nine months of dedication and commitment to her job at the hospital. By what authority could this have happened?

How could Mr. Craig Brown, EO, who has only been on this island for four months, hand her a letter and demand that she vacate her office within an hour and a half? He subsequently demanded her keys, badge and beeper that same day. If she had done anything to warrant such a drastic measure shouldn’t it have been dealt with in accordance with HR procedures and the Labour Law? As outlined in the accompanying article from the Cayman Islands Hospital Employee’s Newsletter in 1003, Cathy is well qualified for the post, which she held at the hospital and over the years she has proven her integrity and commitment to the most important service to the people of our beloved islands.

Mr. Brown told her that her job was being eliminated and she’d have to retire by August 31 or be dismissed. She stated to him that she was aware of the fact that her job was not being eliminated but only being given a name change. This was confirmed on the front page article of the Cayman Net News dated August 11, 2006.

Cathy obtained a lawyer to represent her and at the next meeting with the CEO the lawyer accompanied her, the result being that the lawyer was rudely dismissed from Mr. Brown’s office. She received an offer letter and was given one week to make a decision on it. Before the expiration of the week’s notice to make her decision, he went to her office at closing time on Friday, 11 August, and ordered her to hand over her keys, badge and beeper. Being the professional person she is, naturally she complied, although as one would imagine, with much pain and distress.

That awful night, when she was ordered out of her office without justification and after a lifetime of service, I recalled her as a teenager in 1974 saying goodbye to her dad, Charles Clifford St., of precious memory, her sisters and brother and travelling alone to Canada to obtain qualification and return to work at our hospital.

Throughout her career Cathy has continued to upgrade herself academically, including qualifications in Hospital Administration in 1997. Her most recent qualification is a Masters in Public Policy and Management from the University of London in 2003 and she is currently working on a second Masters Degree in Pastoral Psychology and Counselling.

Among her many accomplishments while at the HAS, I know that she is particularly proud of being responsible for setting up the first Microbiology Lab on the island, working with the RCIP for 20 years (prior to the opening of the Forensic Lab), her work with students who are interested in health care careers and being a key figure in the planning of our new hospital, which opened in 1999.

Regrettably, I must say that the Minister of Health Services, Hon. Anthony Eden’s (whom I have always respected) apologies on radio, television and the press made to myself, Cathy, her husband Kearny, her brother Chuckie (Minister of Tourism Charles Clifford) have been most disappointing as he indicated that the problem was the insensitivity in the way it was done, saying that had he known he would have and I quote ‘softened the blow’ leaving the impression that Cathy’s dismissal was warranted. Also, he did not offer one word of thanks for her long and dedicated services to the hospital. The comments in the Caymanian Compass on Wednesday, 30 August, made by Minister Eden were really another stab in the back for Cathy, since Craig Brown indicated in an e-mail to a radio talk show personality on 30 August that Mr. Eden was informed months ago that Cathy would be let go.

The article in the Caymanian Compass also said that staff at the Hospital should not ‘stagnate’ and I ask you, the public, to be the judge of whether Cathy was stagnating while she continued to upgrade her skills and qualifications over the years.

Minister Eden, what happened to the promise to protect Civil Servants? With Cathy’s qualifications and expertise, why could she not have been offered another position, either in the HAS or in Government, as happened in the case of another senior officer in management during restructuring? Another question I have for the Honourable Anthony Eden, Craig Brown and Pastor Al Ebanks, chairman of the HSA Board is, now that you have removed a fully qualified and experienced Caymanian such as Cathy Gomez out of her job, are you now going to find a non-Caymanian replacement? I am left to wonder if this situation is anything more than a political vendetta.

I have reason to believe that the majority of the hospital staff are saddened that they were denied the privilege of saying a formal goodbye to her, as is relative to any staff (especially long-term staff) on the occasion of their departure. I take this opportunity to extend my sincere thanks to all hospital staff for their love and support always given to Cathy.

She was really treated inhumanely and no monetary sum could compensate for the unjust done to her and all her family.

As her mother and a retired school teacher whose passion is still the welfare of the youths of our Islands, I can only say to you do not be discouraged, set your goals and commit to them. I continue to do substitute teaching at John Gray High School and I happen to know that Cathy’s work with the students at HSA is very much appreciated by them, as they have often expressed this to me.

I am proud of the fact that we have Caymanian doctors, nurses and other professionals now on the staff of our Hospital and in the private sector, who have gone through the programme.

Cathy’s philosophy of dedication to her work has always been supported by her spiritual faith. She views her responsibilities as directly parallel to that of her Christian duties.

She is known throughout these islands, through her music ministry with the United Church, to be a sincere, loving and committed person. I do thank God for her moral and spiritual values.

Please note that the article titled Congratulations Cathy from the Employer’s Newsletter, Cayman Islands Hospital, written in 2003, is taken from my scrapbook of memoirs of Cathy’s achievements.

Thank you for allowing me to express myself in this manner.

Mrs. Janilee Clifford

Congratulations Cathy

Congratulations to our Director of Support Services Mrs. Cathy Gomez who has successfully completed her Masters in Public Policy and Management from the University of London, England. The three-year course was sponsored by the CI Government and coordinated through the Personnel Training Unit.

Chief Executive Officer Mr. Michael Elliott commended Mrs. Gomez on her academic achievement. ‘Cathy’s achievement and the knowledge gained through this programme will be of significant benefit to the Health Services Authority in the development and shaping of its policy and decision making.’

He continued: ‘Her achievement is remarkable when viewed against the fact that she maintained her full work schedule while assuming additional management responsibilities during her studies. To achieve the level of success, which she has while juggling work, family and other social obligations is an outstanding achievement and the Health Services Authority applauds her accomplishment.’

Commenting on her personal achievement Mrs. Gomez says the programme of study has broadened her insight into national and global issues and the way in which the external environment affects decision-making. Her course covered a range of subjects and has broadened her knowledge in areas such as Human Resources, Finance and Information Technology.

Although the programme was very intense and required strict adherence to deadlines to ensure successful completion, Mrs. Gomez says she has learnt the benefits of time management and self-discipline.

‘I would also like to add my thanks to the Government, the PTU and to the HSA for supporting me through it all!’

Mrs. Gomez has been with the Health Services for the past 29 years, starting in 1974 as a Medical Technologist after completing her qualifications in Canada. Her skills, qualities and leadership abilities resulted in her promotion to Laboratory Supervisor, a position she held for 12 years.

She was promoted again in 1994 to the ranks of the senior management team with current responsibility for patient support services.

As part of her current duties, Mrs. Gomez is responsible for coordinating all student activities at the Health Services Authority. She offers this advice to students:

‘Set your goals and commit to them. Do not be afraid if you are not quite sure of what career you want to do. Chances are you will progress and change anyway. You are never too old to learn and if you are prepared to sacrifice for a little while, the reward will benefit you in the end.’

In 1997 Mrs. Gomez also successfully completed a Credential of Advanced Studies in Hospital Administration from the University of Minnesota.

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