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Expert team from PAHO to finally solve odour problem at Cornwall Regional

Published:Saturday | October 15, 2016 | 12:00 AMAndrew Harris
Dr Christopher Tufton, minister of health.
Cornwall Regional Hospital

A team of three experts from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is expected to arrive in the island tomorrow morning to carry out a joint operation with local experts, in order to address the odour problem that has been plaguing the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) in St James for a number of years.

The PAHO team will consist of an environmental consultant and a toxicology consultant, who will assist the local team in assessing the source of the problem and finding an acceptable solution. The experts will join the teams from the Ministry of Health, Western Regional Health Authority, CRH, Health Facilities Management Unit, and Environmental Solutions Limited.

Though the real source of the issue is yet to be determined, a preliminary assessment has linked the non-operation of the central ventilation system at CRH from as far back as 1997 as a major contributor to the odour problems being experienced.

The issue resurfaced last month, causing major discomfort to patients and staff on the first to third floors and resulted in the suspension of clinics and outpatient services. This prompted the health ministry to seek outside aid to help solve the dilemma once and for all.




According to Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton, the problem is as a result of a seven-year-old malodour affecting the first to third floors of the hospital, tracking back to 2009. Tufton believes that it worsened as a result of years of neglect of the institution over a period of time, coupled with poor maintenance.

"This is the reason why I have requested that PAHO be brought in, so that we can make quick assessments and come up with a solution to the problem once and for all," Minister Tufton told The Sunday Gleaner yesterday.

It was not determined how long the investigation will last; however, Tufton conceded that it will impact the hospital in a major way, because "the three affected floors are the most important floors to the hospital".

The process will result in the displacement of a number of patients, and hence, the health ministry has made the necessary arrangements to accommodate them at other health facilities. Nearby clinics will also be utilised, and some major cases will be sent to other hospitals. CRH staff will also be affected.

"We have to rent additional facilities, reschedule some appointments, and so on; however, we have put together a team to minimise the displacement," Tufton noted.

"You're talking about records being stored, and without the records you cannot treat the patients, so it will impact the hospital greatly."