Sun | Dec 17, 2017

Conditions at Cornwall Regional Hospital very bad - JMDA

Published:Wednesday | November 29, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Dr Elon Thompson, president of the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association

The Jamaica Medical Doctors Association (JMDA) says working conditions at the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) in Montego Bay, St James, are "really bad", and it is calling for the Ministry of Health to indicate when the institution will return to normality.

Normal operations at the hospital have been disrupted since the emission of irritants in sections of the facility earlier this year, which resulted in the temporary relocation of several clinical service delivery areas elsewhere on the compound or to external locations.

In the interim, extensive rehabilitation is being done to the building's ventilation system. The rehabilitation project also involves electrical work, plumbing, and the rearrangement of the facility to achieve more efficiency in delivering patient care.

"It is difficult to say where they are now without the updates. What is necessary now is the establishment of time-lines as to when the hospital will return to normalcy," JMDA president Dr Elon Thompson, told The Gleaner.

"I am unaware of a timeline when the hospital will return to normalcy. I think we have given the Ministry of Health enough time to indicate when normalcy will be restored. They are held accountable by the people of Montego Bay," said Dr Thompson.

He said that while the association has not received any recent complaints from the staff about the continued effects of irritants, the displacement was still there, coupled with other factors that affect patient care and staff welfare, which continue to be problematic. Currently, as many as 10 clinics operate from the neighbouring Seventh-day Adventist Western Jamaica Conference Centre, where outpatient services are being accommodated.

'Generally low staff morale at hospital'

Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton had given a public undertaking that his ministry would provide monthly updates on the progress of the restorative work at Cornwall Regional Hospital. He had indicated that the facility would be operating by the first quarter of 2018.

But despite these assurances, Dr Elon Thompson, president of the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association (JMDA) said his organisation has not received a recent update from the Ministry of Health. In addition, he pointed to the stressful working conditions in the accident and emergency (A&E) unit.

"I visited the hospital about two months ago and things were really bad," Thompson related. "I think the A&E unit is inadequate for the people of Montego Bay. It's too small and there are breaches to international standards for how patients should be housed." He added that stretchers were placed too close to each other, breaching the international standard of distance between patients.

The JMDA president reported that although all levels of staff are doing their best within the circumstances. "There is a generally low staff morale at this point because of the issues affecting the hospital."