Sat | Aug 24, 2019

Tufton, Campbell in row over health of CRH staff

Published:Wednesday | April 4, 2018 | 12:00 AMBrian Walker/Staff Reporter
Dr Dayton Campbell
Dr Christopher Tufton (right), minister of health, hands over the keys to a Toyota Hiace bus to Fabia Lamm, regional director, North East Regional Health Authority, during the handover of two buses to that body and the Western Regional Health Authority to be used for their community mental health services. The handover ceremony was held at the National Health Fund Pharmaceutical Division in Kingston yesterday.
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Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has called for balanced discourse about the deaths of two workers at the Cornwall Regional Hospital following the disclosure by Opposition Spokesman on Health Dr Dayton Campbell that the deaths prompted a sick-out by 18 doctors.

"You have medical persons at the facility who are having fears and trepidation which have led them to staying away from work because they are concerned that their colleagues may have died based on the condition of the building at the Cornwall Regional Hospital," Campbell told a press conference at Gordon House yesterday.

The minister of health, who appeared at the Opposition's press conference, later disclosed at his own media briefing that a temporary ancillary worker at the facility died from a heart attack and the Government is awaiting the autopsy for a Cuban doctor.

"I think it is irresponsible for the Opposition and spokesperson to take into a press briefing a discussion around deaths at Cornwall Regional with the insinuation, not explicit, but the implicit suggestion that these deaths may be linked to air-quality issues," Tufton argued. "I think the danger in that assumption is that it sends panic in the population ... and may deprive persons who need services at Cornwall," he added.

The health minister also announced that the remaining patients at the main building of Cornwall Regional Hospital will be relocated over the next week. He was responding to a proposal by Campbell to close the main building in a push to speed up renovation and minimise health complications.

...Opposition calls for monitoring of ill health workers

Opposition Spokesman on Health Dr Dayton Campbell believes health workers who have fallen ill while working at Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James should be monitored on a sustained basis.

"There needs to be some protocol put in place to follow up on all of these individuals who would have suffered from dermatological or respiratory complications from the facility, so you can track them to know what the outcome of their illness is," said Campbell during a press conference at Gordon House yesterday.

The opposition spokesman on health added, "We want to ensure that as they carry out their duties, we are not asking them to do so in a way that they are jeopardising their own health."

According to Tufton, the staff clinic has been analysing data regarding health workers. "We have done the tests, we have done treatments and we are logging the cases. As of now, there is nothing to suggest that the air quality will have long-term impact, but obviously, in these circumstances, one has to keep records, he said."

brian.walker@gleanerjm.com