Sun | Dec 16, 2018

Setback for CRH rehabilitation

Published:Wednesday | March 7, 2018 | 12:52 AM

The relocation of patients from the Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James has taken on greater urgency in light of the discovery of more faults with the 440-bed Type A facility during another examination by a technical team on Monday.

Consequently, more patients have been transferred to the Falmouth Public Hospital in neighbouring Trelawny, even as the health ministry looks into collaborating with the Noel Holmes Hospital in Hanover.

This has become necessary as the Government seeks to effect a projected J$2-billion fix to the only referral facility of its kind in western Jamaica.

“What was a ventilation source for pollution morphed into an examination of moisture in the walls because of a leaking roof with a design where the water actually runs down through the wall. The way it is designed ­ leaking pipes and a leaking roof ­ has created mould in the building,” Health Minister Christopher Tufton told journalists at Jamaica House. “There was suspicion that the sewage system also was compromised and was contributing to contaminants,” he added.

The health minister also pointed to the degeneration of the chimney connected to the boiler after 50 years with very little maintenance. This has resulted in the emissions from the chimney feeding back into the building, polluting the air and making health-care delivery unbearable for staff and patients.

He said the decision to relocate patients was dictated by the need to allow for the requisite gutting of the building, where necessary, and the removal of the archaic ventilation system, which will be replaced by an up-to-date, custom-built one.

The extensive scope of work necessary to properly address problems at Cornwall Regional Hospital will push the original timeline for full operational capability closer to the end of the year, Tufton explained.

During this time, however, the outpatient clinic will continue to operate next door, as usual, while critical-care patients, such as those requiring kidney dialysis and oncology care, will continue to be served. Accident and Emergency has been moved to the Mount Salem Clinic, which is very near.

In fact, Chief Medical Officer Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie assured The Gleaner that health care delivery would not be compromised, despite the disruption and dislocation, while Tufton made it clear that a shutdown of the hospital was not on the cards, even with the many challenges for health care professionals and patients. Nor is he going for a quick fix.

“The Government of the day took the decision based on the advice that I have received from the technical people not to put a Band-Aid solution on the problem, because a Band-Aid solution to the problem would not solve the long-term sustainability and the viability of this important institution,” said Tufton.