Fri | Feb 23, 2018

Health Check | Maintenance deficiency still worrying

Published:Monday | December 11, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Dr Elon Thompson, president of the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association.
A view of Kingston Public Hospital.
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In 2015, then Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson, in response to several concerns raised about the status of public-health facilities, ordered an internal audit of the four regional health authorities to "determine safety and functionality of the systems". Two years later, The Gleaner has sought to find out what has been done to address the myriad problems uncovered by the audit. These are some of the findings from the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA).

The lack of maintenance of equipment and infrastructure remains a major problem plaguing the health system. That's according to Dr Elon Thompson, president of the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association (JMDA), reflecting on the changes since the Ministry of Health ordered the audits after the JMDA exposed what its members charged was the poor and unsafe working environment in a number of public medical facilities.

The audit of the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) by the South East Regional Health Authority in July 2015 pointed to a shortage of critical equipment and poor physical infrastructure in the operating theatre and other high-risk clinical service delivery areas.

Fast-forward to November 2017, and Thompson does not believe enough improvement has been made in these areas.

"In certain departments at KPH, the Government has not bought a piece of equipment for more than eight years, and there is an issue of maintenance," Thompson told The Gleaner.

"Several doctors are forced to carry their own equipment to KPH to operate on patients," charged Thompson.

"We are happy to do this because the procedures should not be done any other way, but we think, though, that the Government has to show some commitment to improving equipment, especially at the KPH.

"Serious infrastructure repairs are needed to prevent any infectious outbreak," added the JMDA president.