Thu | Oct 18, 2018

CRH costs soaring - Payment for use of Adventists facility could reach $2m monthly

Published:Sunday | March 19, 2017 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue
Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton (second left) on a tour of the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay recently.

The Ministry of Health might have to pay as much as $2 million each month for its use of premises owned by the West Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists to relocate sections of the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH).

But the bulk of that money would not go into the coffers of the church, which has made it clear that it is not seeking to gain from its gesture of delaying some programmes to bail out the health ministry, which was forced to relocate services because of noxious fumes being emitted from the air-conditioning unit at the neighbouring hospital.

While there is no decision yet on a fee for the use of the facility, Sunday Gleaner sources say the electricity cost alone could exceed $1 million. Then there are the additional costs related to janitorial services, security and incidentals.

President of the Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Pastor Glen Samuels, told The Sunday Gleaner that officials of the health ministry have been asking the church to name a figure for the use of the facility but this has not yet been done for several reasons.

"They have been asking but we have not yet arrived at a figure. Up to (last) Tuesday evening a (health ministry) representative asked us if we arrived at a figure," said Samuels.


High electricity bills


He said the facility has been housing some of the hospital's operations since late last year and has never asked for any money.

"It is since the issue has blossomed into a crisis and they came back and we said we would - inasmuch as it would curtail our services - make the second auditorium available, which was built in 2004. My only fear is that because the air-conditioning unit on the second auditorium is an older model it does burn a lot," added Samuels.

He noted that in December 2016, when there was a one-week meeting, the electricity bill for the facility went up to $850,000, up from the average high $400,000 to $500,000 monthly.

"So we have discussed the possibility of providing a print-out of all the bills at each Jamaica Public Service Company cycle so they could see the additional electricity generated so they could take care of those or, if they want to, they could add a figure to whatever rental that would be worked out between us," said Samuels.

"We want to do the arrangement so there is no pressure on either side. The hospital has pointed us to other facilities they are using and the charge per square foot, for us to use as guide, but we have not reached that stage yet. So $2 million per month, that is not so," declared Samuels.

Last week, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton confirmed that the Government has offered a figure for the use of the facility but he could not say what it was offhand.

According to Tufton, the Government may need use of the church facilities to hold six or seven clinics which were operational at the hospital.

The problem at the 400-bed Mt Salem-based hospital has forced the closure of the institution's first three floors and caused several clinics, and a number of departments, including accident and emergency, to be relocated.

The hospital now has some 30 cubicles spread out in the church's auditoriums, where the antenatal clinic, the physiotherapy department, and a number of lab operations are housed.

Tufton is slated to tour the hospital today to see the updates which have been made since last week.