Tufton, engineers to assess problem at Cornwall Regional today
Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton and a team of engineers are slated to tour the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, St James, this morning to assess the conditions which has caused a disruption in normal services at the 400-bed health facility since Monday.
Anthony Smikle, the hospital's chief executive officer, told The Gleaner yesterday that the noxious fumes issue was still plaguing the facility, resulting in the evacuation of the affected areas.
He explained: "The psychiatry clinic, the obstetric clinic and the gynaecology clinic have been relocated in close proximity to the hospital, and we are working on determining the sites for the other main clinics by next week. Part of the service will be at the West Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, and will generally be in a close radius around the hospital because we have to be close by."
Smikle added, "The technical engineers are looking at the issues because there are some more complexities to address."
SURFACED LAST YEAR
The problem at the Mt Salem-based hospital first surfaced last year when the noxious fumes, which reportedly emanated from the X-ray department, seeped into the ventilation system, forcing the closure of three floors of the hospital, including the much-used accident and emergency (A&E) department. As a result, the administration diverted some cases from the A&E department to the nearby Mt. Salem Health Centre. Persons with non-urgent cases were asked to visit the health centres closest to their homes.
When the latest situation came to the fore on Monday, staffers and patients complained of an awful stench and a burning sensation of their skin. Realising that the symptoms were similar to what occurred six months ago, immediately steps were taken to vacate the affected areas.
"Persons were having symptoms that they had reported in the first instance, so we looked back at what was done then and vacated the affected areas," said Smikle. "The engineers will have to see if there are other issues that they must address as a matter of urgency."
In October, the health ministry had brought in three experts from the Pan American Health Organization to work with local experts to assess the source of the problem and help find an acceptable solution to the problem which has reportedly been affecting the hospital for a number of years.