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More problems identified at CRH - Tufton says electrical system, X-ray technology to be replaced

Published:Friday | February 24, 2017 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas
Dr Christopher Tufton
Cornwall Regional Hospital


Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton says that in addition to tackling the ongoing air-quality issues affecting operations at the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) in Montego Bay, St James, his ministry will also be doing additional infrastructural work to replace the hospital's electrical system and upgrade its diagnostic technology.

Speaking at a town hall meeting at the Montego Bay Civic Centre on Thursday, the health minister provided an update on the noxious fumes, which have caused the closure of the first three floors of the hospital, resulting in major dislocation to include the relocation of several departments.

"The electrical system at the CRH is deplorable because since the hospital was built, not enough has been done to maintain the electrical network, and I worry that if we do not fix it, one day fires will break out and people are going to lose their lives in that 10-storey building," said Tufton.

"Not only are we going to fix the vent, but we are going to make provisions for the engineers to come in so that we will replace the electrical system in the hospital, which is going to run another couple hundred million dollars if we are to do it correctly," added Tufton.

Chemicals in X-ray department leaking into ventilation system

Speaking during a town hall meeting in Montego Bay, St James, on Thursday, health minister Dr Christopher Tufton noted that air-quality problems at the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH), which came to national attention late last year, originally stemmed from chemicals in the X-ray department leaking into the ventilation system. He said that this was more reason to upgrade the hospital's current diagnostic technology.


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"The original source of this particular problem was because of the chemical spill from chemicals that are used in the X-ray process," said Tufton. "It is an outdated technology, and the new technology now is digital technology ... . Digital technology is so important because when you do an X-ray using digital technology, you can transfer that electronically to any other place ... and it also reduces the risk of things like chemical spills. Not only are we going to look at the electrical system and replace it, we are going to put in digital technology to replace the diagnostic service."

According to the minister, the situation at the CRH showcases the need for better maintenance of state-owned properties.

"We have a history in this country of not maintaining our state-owned infrastructure, our buildings and our machinery, so the period of time it takes to move from new to old is a lot shorter because we do not spend any time maintaining it," Tufton noted. "The first positive that should come out of this [situation at CRH], if anything, is that it should generate a national discourse around how we treat our public infrastructure in this country."

Because of the air-quality issues at the CRH, which has impacted the health of staffers and patients, a number of departments have had to be relocated to makeshift tents on the compound, as well as to rented space at an adjoining property. Based on the health minister's assessment, it could take as long as six months to have the current problem rectified.