Sat | Jan 20, 2018

Unified approach to manage CRH crisis

Published:Saturday | March 4, 2017 | 12:00 AMAdrian Frater
Cornwall Regional Hospital

Western Bureau:

As the fallout from the noxious fumes at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay continues to create jitters among stakeholders in the local health sector, an important compromise was reached yesterday when the Ministry of Health, the Nurses Association of Jamaican, (NAJ), the Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ), and the Jamaica Medical Doctors' Association (JMDA) took a decision to work together to manage the crisis.

Following a meeting yesterday, which was called to discuss the ongoing efforts to find solutions to the challenges facing the Montego Bay-based hospital, the attendees, which included Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, NAJ boss Janet Coore-Farr, and representatives of the MAJ and JMDA, the stakeholders emerged, saying a decision was reached to preserve critical areas of services at the hospital.

"The teams agreed to work together to preserve critical areas of services at the CRH while minimising the adverse impact on staff and patients at the facility. The team discussed plans related to the continued relocation of services and patients to identify locations," the MOH release stated.

In a subsequent interview with The Gleaner, Coore-Farr, whose NAJ members had called in sick on Thursday to protest the poor air-quality situation at the hospital, said the meeting was a favourable one and that important timelines had been set.

"It was a favourable meeting and we have come to a conclusion. We now have some timelines, which we can now share with our members," said Coore-Farr. "In another two to three weeks, we are going to be minimising the situation at Cornwall Regional."


Agreed to work together


In its release, the MOH said the groups had come to an agreement to work together to preserve critical areas of services while minimising the adverse impact on staff and patients at the facility. It further stated that plans were discussed regarding the continued relocation of services and patients to identified locations.

The groups agreed to work together on several initiatives including:

- The isolation and cleaning of the operating theatres and adjoining ward facilities to accommodate dire surgical emergencies.

- The relocation of other critical patients to alternative accommodations on the compound within three weeks.

- Continued re-routing of various services to other hospitals, including Savanna-la-Mar and Falmouth; as well as other medical facilities. Activities are said to be under way to strengthen these areas to accommodate the increased patient load.

The release also said that containment measures have started in a bid to isolate the more severely affected areas of the hospital's main building and that alternate access points have been established, which was a primary area of concern for the nurses.

... Ministry caught off guard by nurses' protest

In what appears to be a reaction to Thursday's sick-out by the nurses, which reportedly caught the Ministry of Health off guard, Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton has emphasised the need to establish a solid line of communication between stakeholders going forward. He also gave a commitment to have daily briefings with all stakeholders to ensure that they are aware of any new developments.

In addition to the work now being done at the facility by experts from the Pan American Health Organisation in the quest to restore normalcy, Tufton also announced on Thursday that J$300 million was to become available shortly to work on the problem-plagued ventilation system at the 400-bed Type A hospital, which is the only institution of its type in western Jamaica.

"We are making a case to the Cabinet ... that not only should Cornwall Regional be addressed in terms of capital upgrading, but there is a range of other facilities that really have not got the attention (they) deserve over an extended period of time," said Tufton.