Health Check | May Pen Hospital still suffering from problems of two years ago
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 in 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 of problems uncovered by the audit. These are some of the findings from the South Regional Health Authority.
Despite the renovation of the operating theatre in January, the May Pen Hospital in Clarendon continues to be dogged by many of the deficiencies identified by a Ministry of Health (MOH) audit two years ago.
The audit, which was conducted by the Southern Regional Health Authority in May 2015, found that the operating theatre, special care nursery, and the accident and emergency department needed medications, clothing for staff and patients, cots, incubators, stretchers, and bed linens, among other items.
Leon Dixon, chief executive officer (CEO) of May Pen Hospital, told The Gleaner that the items in short supply were procured and distributed to the high-risk clinical service delivery areas that needed them.
But Dixon argued that for the past two years, these areas have experienced overcrowding, admissions from multiple motor vehicle accidents, increase in maternal and child care, and increase in surgical interventions.
This has resulted in supplies being depleted, equipment needing repair, and medications running out of stock - a return of the poor working environment in 2015, which prompted complaints from the Jamaica Medical Doctors' Association and precipitated the MOH audits.
Although the special-care nursery (SCN), which houses 20 neonates, has received two new incubators and 10 cots since 2015, it still needs more.
This is so, especially during the September to December period when admissions and deliveries peak at the hospital, Dixon disclosed.
He added that while the SCN has adequate supplies of most drugs, amoxicillin (antibiotic used to treat infection) is in short supply at times and the availability of hydrocortisone (used to treat inflammation) has been a challenge.
According to the CEO, the accident and emergency (A&E) department has received additional wheelchairs and stretchers, but because of overcrowding, the supplies are still insufficient. Some of the stretchers are also occupied by patients awaiting a bed on the wards.
The overcrowding has also resulted in challenges in the supply of linens, gowns, and drapes and screens for patients in the A&E department.