Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Long wait clouding sight of hope at Ja/Cuba eye care clinic

Published:Monday | December 12, 2016 | 12:48 AM

 Livern Barrett, Senior Gleaner Writer

The hope for almost two dozen persons to receive well-needed eye care was dashed this morning after they were turned away from the Jamaica/Cuba Eye Care Clinic at the National Chest Hospital in St Andrew without even getting an appointment for another visit.

A clinic employee who recorded the names and telephone numbers for the 20 persons who turned up, most of them elderly, indicated that no appointments will be granted until next February.

"We have appointments until Jan 30 (next year). On top of that there are about 300 people waiting on phone calls for appointments," the employee revealed.

"So we can't keep making appointments. I will take your names and telephone numbers, but let me make it clear that you won't get a call until about February next year, " he continued.

"Oh Jesus," one elderly woman reacted.

Explaining the reason for the backlog, the employee said at present there is only one doctor covering the entire programme.

"The doctor who handled screening, which is what most of you are here for, his contract expired," he said, adding that there has been no replacement.

The Jamaica/Cuba Eye Care Clinic began operations in 2010, six months after the signing of a Bilateral Agreement of Cooperation between the two countries.

The Health Ministry revealed last year that the clinic has recorded more than 78,000 visits since it began operations.

In addition the ministry said more than 24,000 persons have been screened at the clinic and 9,800 procedures done in Jamaica.

Representatives from the health ministry did not immediately respond to our attempts for a reaction to the situation at the National Chest Hospital.