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Social patients to leave Falmouth Hospital - To be observed by Infirmary Expansion Programme

Published:Wednesday | October 18, 2017 | 12:00 AMLeon Jackson
Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton

Western Bureau:

The Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA) is soon to be relieved of the responsibility of caring for the 10 social patients now occupying much-needed bed space at Falmouth Hospital, thanks to the timely intervention of Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton.

Speaking with The Gleaner following his participation in Sunday's Jamaica National Building Society Usain Bolt 10K Run and 5K Fun Run in Falmouth, the health minister told The Gleaner that the social patients, who are costing the WRHA $130,000 per day, will become part of a proposed Infirmary Expansion Programme.

"We have an arrangement with Food For The Poor to embark on an Infirmary Expansion Programme. This is in exchange for the Government assigning a nurse to provide support for those who might have chronic illnesses like stroke," said Tufton.

According to Tufton, the programme is slated to begin as soon as the expansion to the Falmouth Infirmary is complete and the patients in question are transferred from the hospital to that facility.

Within recent times, Dr Ken-Garfield Douglas, who heads the WRHA has been bemoaning the fact that social patients, who for the most part are fairly healthy, are occupying much-needed spaces to the detriment of sick persons who cannot be admitted at the hospital because of the unavailability of beds.

"The hospital's duty is to rehabilitate sick people, not to be responsible for their post-rehabilitative care," said Douglas, in asking for the removal of the social patients from the hospital. "It is most unreasonable to have legitimate patients sitting on a chair for days waiting for bed space which is occupied by healthy social patients."

Douglas recently made an urgent plea to the Trelawny Municipal Corporation to take the social patients off the hands of the WRHA, saying the corporation's clinging to an old 1940 law, which allows it to be derelict of its duty to provide space for its social patients, should be disregarded, as it is not longer relevant.

The issue of social patients is rampant all over western Jamaica, as more and more persons are being abandoned at hospitals by relatives who are not able to care for them. Last year, Cornwall Regional Hospital, much to the chagrin of the WRHA, had more than 30 social patients.