Sun | Feb 25, 2018

UHWI needs diverse canteen

Published:Saturday | March 4, 2017 | 12:00 AM


Health Minister Chris Tufton is looking at reforming hospitals, with special reference to improving response times. I laud him. As a user of those services, I hope to benefit from this soon.

My last letter to a newspaper cited inordinate waiting times as the most glaring weakness of the University Hospital of the West Indies, where I watched a dedicated team of doctors and nurses pour their hearts into their work with such love and compassion that I could not help but be impressed.

One other need I'd like to ask Minister Tufton and the hospital board to address with urgency is the need for a cafeteria. Not a greasy spoon, but one providing healthy, tasty meals and snacks appropriate for persons with all kinds of illnesses, as well as healthy relatives and visitors who might want to have a meal during their long wait after a day at work or a long trek from the country to visit relatives or friends.

I hope the concessionaire(s) will support the Jamaican farmer by placing on the menu tasty juices such as soursop, June plum or pine, sugar free or sweetened with honey, 100 per cent orange juice with pulp, passion fruit, ginger beer, and lemonade (with honey), as well as using some of the otaheite apple, mango, and guava crops always going to waste and selling them at reasonable prices to complement a local-based menu consisting of grains, lean meat from local grass-fed animals, nuts and fresh fruits and vegetables - also locally grown. (Perhaps with this market, some enterprising student will harvest our local almond, which can be seen littering the ground across Kingston, and sell it to the canteen.)

Every single time I visit the hospital, I - and the patients using the Accident and Emergency Department - literally starve unless we carry our own food or are accompanied by someone able to go across the road and get us a snack. The hunger and gas pain add to our illness and discomfort.

The hospital staff also suffers, as the nurses, doctors, and technicians don't have someplace where they can get a balanced meal or hot drink. They need this if they're to serve at their best in situations where they're rushed off their feet, make decisions, and take actions in life and death matters.

Perhaps on my next non-emergency visit, I'll take a sample meal to whet the appetite of someone in management. I'm sure if the hospital rented the restaurant for a modest sum, the price of the meals could be kept affordable. If the concessionaire(s) consulted with the medical team, s/he/they would be able to provide meals suitable and helpful for persons with a variety of health problems.

Over to you, Dr Tufton!