Major shake-up in health sector ... Errol Greene to now head WRHA; ailing Cornwall Regional Hospital a top priority
A massive shake-up is now under way of the management and oversight teams responsible for the problem-plagued Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James, as health officials hasten to halt declining confidence in the operations of the ailing facility.
For several years, the relevant authorities have been trying to identify and rectify the issues of noxious fumes polluting the atmosphere of the institution, affecting the health of staff and patients.
However, despite several interventions, the situation has only worsened, which has led to, among other things, the competence of the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA) being questioned.
As a result, Sunday Gleaner sources have revealed that a decision has been taken not to renew the contract of WRHA regional director, Dr Ken-Garfield Douglas.
Effective tomorrow morning, current chief executive officer of the Kingston Public Hospital, Errol Greene, will take over.
As WRHA's new regional director, Greene will have responsibilities for all
hospitals and health centres in the parishes of Trelawny, St James, Hanover, and Westmoreland.
Cornwall Regional Hospital is expected to top his list of priorities, with him being charged to take the necessary steps to once and for all solve the problems, which have been deteriorating over the years.
As it stands now, all the services and patients at the hospital have been relocated to facilitate a major multimillion-dollar renovation, which is expected to finally restore health to the institution.
The entire restoration exercise of the 400-bed Type A facility is expected to cost approximately US$17 million and is projected to be completed by the end of the year.
It is understood that Greene will have the full backing of the Ministry of Health in this undertaking.
The shake-up out west will also reportedly include an official from Mandeville, Manchester, being brought in to take up a senior position at the hospital.
Additionally, sources say, the head of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) is being sent home and a new head from Canada is to arrive in Jamaica within days. UNOPS is the entity spearheading the renovations at Cornwall Regional Hospital.
A team from the Pan American Health Organisation is also expected to return to the island to assist with the renovation exercise.
New personnel will also be brought in at the hospital, information has revealed, which is expected to strengthen the restructuring of the institution. Some personnel will also be shifted.
RAFT OF MEASURES
When contacted by The Sunday Gleaner to confirm information on the new developments, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton would only comment that "the management process is under review".
However, he shared that the ministry has been implementing a raft of measures geared at stemming the crisis at the hospital.
- What had for years been the nursing quarters has now been transformed into a mini-like facility to accommodate 200 beds.
- A temporary operating theatre is being set up in what was the accident and emergency area, which is to be operated at the extended hours of 4:30 a.m to 10 p.m.
- A staff clinic has been set up to render care to those coming down with illness.
- The work will also include the continuation of a demoulding exercise.
"Now that the facility has been cleared out, the working group will have a free hand to address the various issues affecting the hospital, ripping out the whole ventilation system, addressing the leaking roof, and so on," Tufton said.
Tufton has been coming under increasing pressure amid mounting reports that the situation at Cornwall Regional has reached a critical point.
With reports of scores of doctors and nurses falling ill and experiencing various ailments, groups such as the Nurses' Association of Jamaica have threatened to take legal action against the Government, even as industrial action has already been taken by both the nurses and doctors.
Opposition spokesperson on health, Dr Dayton Campbell, has stepped up the pressure, accusing the health ministry of mishandling the situation at the hospital and calling for the head of Tufton.
Campbell has also leaked internal ministry letters revealing that former Chief Medical Officer Winston De La Haye had recommended last year that the hospital be shut down within 10 days.
But Tufton has insisted that closing down the entire facility at the time would have been impractical, and instead opted for a gradual shutdown, a process which finally culminated this weekend.
The health minister has also been busy seeking to reassure stakeholders and the public that the Government is not insensitive to the issues and that they were, in fact, taking deliberate and decisive steps to rectify the situation.
Reports are that Tufton has been less than pleased with the management of the situation, hence the decision for the shake-up.