Wed | Apr 8, 2020

Percy Junor Hospital gets ER

Published:Thursday | December 14, 2017 | 12:00 AMTamara Bailey
The interim containerised emergency room at the Percy Junor Hospital in Spaldings, Clarendon.
Inside view of the new emergency room.

Imagine having to whisper to your doctor whenever you visit the emergency room, out of fear that those in earshot will hear your business, because the wall between the treatment room and the waiting area is either extremely thin or non-existent.

This was, and to some degree remains, the reality for patients who visit the accident and emergency (A&E) department of the Percy Junor Hospital in Spalding, Clarendon. The hospital, which provides healthcare to more than 3,000 individuals across four parishes in rural Jamaica, had to find a way to accommodate the influx of patients. The solution was to completely retrofit a containerised structure that will now be used as an emergency room (ER) and an extension to the A&E department.

Speaking recently at the official opening of the ER facility, the hospital's chief executive officer, Carlton Nichols, noted that the A&E department had become woefully inadequate, with an increase in the number of patients it receives, particularly as a result of motor vehicle accidents.

"Incidents of mass casualty have been handled in the open corridor, simply because we don't have the space," disclosed Nichols. "It is impossible to have a logical sequence of customer flow. It creates frustration for both patients and staff."

The new structure, made possible through an allowance of $21.3 million from the Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA), houses two doctors' offices, one treatment room, a staff bathroom, a lunchroom, a nebulisation bay, two emergency resuscitation stretchers, four treatment stretchers, a sluice room, an asthma bay, and a nurses' station. It will operate as an interim emergency room until a sum of approximately $500 million can be sourced to expand the existing A&E department.

A medical officer scheduled to use the facility told Rural Xpress that the alternative to what already exists will make a world of a difference.

"We have much more space, and the patients can be examined in privacy. Because of how this new structure is retrofitted, a constant will have to be maintained where it concerns air conditioning; thus we expect that microbial conditions will be contained," said Dr. Tamara Mckenzie. "This is more comfortable for patients and it allows for better flow. When patients come in, they really can't manage the effects of an unpleasant area along with their illnesses."




Meanwhile, regional director at the SRHA, Michael Bent, made a plea for those with health insurance cards to use them at the facility, as additional money collected will go a far way in offsetting expenses.

In his address, Audley Shaw, member of parliament for North East Manchester, called for consideration to be given to the upgrading of the hospital and the provision of modern technology.

"It is really a hospital that over time will have to be looked at for a Type B status, or even type A. We have plans for the improvement of healthcare in Jamaica. Far too many of our citizens have to be catching a flight out of Jamaica because they are critically ill," stated Shaw. "Our doctors are well-trained, but a part of the problem is that they don't have the state-of-the-art equipment that will help them get the job done here. So, we have to get the technology here for a healthier and better Jamaica."