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'We have nothing to be ashamed of' - Outgoing WRHA chairman defends board and CRH staff

Published:Wednesday | November 18, 2015 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas
Calvin G. Brown, outgoing chairman of the Western Regional Health Authority.
James Moss-Solomon, new chairman of the University Hospital of the West Indies.
Tony Hart, new chairman of the WRHA.
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Western Bureau:

In a staunch defence of his stewardship and that of the staff at the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) in Montego Bay, St James, outgoing chairman of the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), Calvin G. Brown, has declared he has nothing to be ashamed of.

On Monday, Brown and the board he led were asked to resign by newly appointed Health Minister Horace Dalley in the wake of the 'dead babies scandal', which played a pivotal role in the removal of Dr Fenton Ferguson as the minister of health.

"We have nothing to be ashamed of, and I think we did exceptionally well. It is unfortunate what took place in respect of the deaths of the neonates," Brown told The Gleaner yesterday.

"... But it is something that takes place regularly in conditions such as those, and the technical officers and medical persons tried their best to save those who could have been saved ... . It had nothing to do with the stewardship of the board."

Brown, who took over the WRHA chairmanship in March, also insisted that the medical staff at CRH did the best they could have done, despite limited resources, to address the outbreaks of klebsiella and serratia bacteria, which affected both CRH and the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) and led to the deaths of 19 premature babies.

A total of 42 premature babies were infected between June and October, during four separate outbreaks.

"At CRH, we have a limited number of 22 spaces for the neonates' ward. When you go over 22, you have to push everything into a tighter space, which gives the possibility of contracting such diseases," said Brown.

"The professionals at CRH were able to curtail the outbreak within five days of the first case. We had to open additional areas to put the additional babies so they would not be contaminated."

Brown is adamant that the WRHA followed protocol and informed the relevant authorities from the very first outbreak.

"We spoke to our regional technical director (Dr Dianne Campbell-Stennett) and advised the chief medical officer (Dr Marion Bullock-Ducasse) on the very same day ... so nobody can say they did not know what was being done at CRH," he said.

 

NOTHING BUT PRAISE

 

He continued: "I have nothing but praise for the staff at the CRH. I have high praise for all the medical staff, the nurses and doctors who are charged to work under trying conditions. They have made do with the resources they have, and many times they have worked miracles. So I will not, for one moment, blame them for anything. I will not throw any of my workers under the bus, because they did well."

Following the news about the deaths of the babies, there was significant public outcry, with several stakeholders, including the opposition Jamaica Labour Party, calling for the resignation of Ferguson and the boards at the two affected institutions.

Dr Cecil White, the chief executive officer at UHWI, and Professor Trevor McCartney, the UHWI medical chief of staff, both resigned after news broke in October about the bacterial outbreak at the hospitals.

Following the resignation of both the WRHA and UHWI boards, at the behest of Dalley, the Office of the Prime Minister announced yesterday that hotelier Tony Hart will take over as chairman of WRHA, while businessman James Moss-Solomon will chair UHWI.

christopher.thomas@gleanerjm.com

WESTERN REGIONAL HEALTH AUTHORITY NEW BOARD

- Tony Hart - chairman

- Merrick Fray

- Desmond Leakey

- Norman Wayne Vaccianna

- Dr Roy McGregor

- Bishop Burchell McPherson

- Mayor Berthel Moore

- Mayor Glendon Harris

-Marva Lawson

- Rev Devere Nugent

UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL OF THE WEST INDIES NEW BOARD

- James Moss-Solomon - chairman

- Sterling Soares

- Dr Carl Bruce

- Jack Shirley

- Walter Scott

- Ian Moore

- Janet Coore-Farr

- A nominee from the Medical Association of Jamaic