Protesting admin workers causing long delays at Kingston hospitals
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Ailing Jamaicans hoping to access health care at two of the island's largest public health facilities today, are in for the long haul, as administrative staff members at the Kingston Public and Victoria Jubilee hospitals continue their protest action, which started yesterday.
This has come as added headache for the embattled health minister, Dr Fenton Ferguson, as the two health care facilities are at a virtual standstill.
The protesters are staging a sit-in to raise awareness to the concern that they are being forced to work without the required tools for their jobs.
The protest comes at a time when the public health care system is reeling under the pressure of additional patient load brought about by the chick-V epidemic gripping Jamaica.
In addition, Ferguson and the South East Regional Health Authority are being forced to focus on the deadly Ebola virus rampaging sections of West Africa and now threatening the western world.
One irate worker who declared "enough is enough" complained that workers, have, for too long, been expected to effectively carry out their functions without the required material.
"We don't even have paper to write reports on," said an administrative worker.
Meanwhile, The Gleaner has been informed that the labour and other wards at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital have been buckling under extreme pressure with no beds available for expectant mothers on the verge of giving birth.
"If you think the situation in relation to the lack of bed is bad at the Bustamante Hospital for Children, check on the Victoria Jubilee and Kingston Public hospitals," said one health worker.
With doctors reportedly complaining that they have been severely overworked, other health workers including nurses and midwives say they are just as stressed.
Last week, The Gleaner was told by a senior member of the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) that Ferguson will be convening a press conference to outline what will be done about the severe shortages at the health facilities.
However, the official who asked not to be named, could not divulge when this press briefing would materialise.
The Gleaner was also told that Ferguson would address the matter of the more than $4 billion in unpaid bills that SERHA has racked up for pharmaceutical supplies, since it assumed responsibility for some public pharmacies under an arrangement with the National Health Fund.
However, by all indications, SERHA is handicapped because subventions from the Consolidated Fund have not been turned over to the Health Ministry.
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