Police Assn. president comes to health secretary’s defense
By John McPhaul
Lt. José J. Taboada de Jesús, president of the Police Members Association of Puerto Rico, said Sunday that the “personal attacks and the smear campaign” carried out by the president of the Physicians and Surgeons Association of Puerto Rico (CMCPR by its Spanish initials), Dr. Carlos Díaz Vélez, against Health Secretary Carlos Mellado López are unnecessary and embarrassing.
Taboada de Jesús called Díaz Vélez’s verbal assault on the Health chief “vicious and dangerous,” and criticized the former for using the platform of the CMCPR in such a way.
“It seems to us that the way and manner in which Dr. Carlos Díaz Vélez … appears in the media to personally attack the secretary of health … demonstrates a lack of sensitivity, a lack of respect, but above all, it is a pretension to undermine a public figure of the first order such as Dr. Carlos Mellado López,” Taboada de Jesús said. “We all know that the Department of Health is an agency that had been mismanaged in the past; however, the direction by Dr. Mellado López has been one who has managed to regain the trust of the people in that department, especially the treatment and the work that is done to help the members of the country’s public safety forces. We are sure that the vicious attacks against a top official such as the current secretary of health is accompanied by the ‘politicking’ mentality of a doctor who has dedicated his entire life to political aspirations within the Popular Democratic Party and who has a long history of failures.”
Last week, Mellado López demanded the health secretary’s resignation, alleging that he is perpetuating a crisis in the health system for his political benefit, and using his position for partisan political purposes.
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia came to the secretary’s defense last Thursday, saying that “the president of the [CMCPR] is doing a disservice” by “disrespecting” Mellado López, “among others.”
“Since he assumed his position with that attitude, he is not representing well those he is supposed to represent,” the governor said. “Basically all the time he’s coming out with attack after attack. Disrespect after disrespect. Disparaging the work of the secretary, the entire team at the Department of Health. Talking to the peanut gallery. He is acting like a politician of the worst kind and not like a medical professional. And with that kind of attitude it doesn’t go anywhere, it doesn’t bring anything positive to Puerto Rico.”
Taboada de Jesús said there is nothing wrong with a person aspiring to a political position. What is wrong, he said, is that the platform of an institution such as the CMCPR is being used to harm the thousands of patients that the government manages through its medical plan. Attacking Dr. Carlos Mellado López, he said, is an attempt to destroy his work, which has put the services provided by the government in the area of health on a better path.
“Dr. Carlos Mellado López has been the only secretary of health who has allowed us to present alternatives, suggestions and even proposals for the management of the health of fellow police officers of Puerto Rico,” Taboada de Jesús said.
Among the problems that law enforcement officers encounter when trying to see a doctor, he said, are that there are no immediate appointments, many medical services offices have signs that do not accept any medical plan, and to top it off, the number of doctors requesting payment in “cash” for the services provided continues to increase.