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Health Minister: CRH’s foundation needs urgent repair

Published:Tuesday | March 20, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas
Christopher Thomas Photo The Cornwall Regional Hospital building.


Dr Christopher Tufton, the nation's minister of health, says that fixing the foundation on which the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) now sits is one of the issues that is poised to get priority attention in the ongoing restoration work now taking place at the 400-bed hospital, in Montego Bay, St James.

Tufton, who toured the Mt Salem-based Type A hospital last week, after fresh reports of noxious fumes adversely affecting staff members - an issue which caused the significant scaling down of operations and the relocation of some services - admitted that the facility is facing major challenges.

"The foundation of the building has been compromised over a period of time, and this was exacerbated by the humidity [moisture] in the basement, and also in recent times by a tremor that took place on February 4," said Tufton.

"So, what we had to do was bring engineers into the building to assess the technical defects, and we were advised that we needed to do rehabilitative work."

"The supporting column that the building sits on requires serious repair work in order to be restored," continued Tufton. "That is another scope of work which was never planned for, but it can't be left undone. It would make no sense for us to say that we are repairing the building and yet we are leaving these things undone."

Despite identifying the structural flaw in the building's foundation and advocating for its immediate repairs, the health minister said there was no need for panic as, according to him, it does not mean that the hospital is going to collapse.

In January, several departments had to be relocated from the hospital's first three floors after an outbreak of noxious fumes which were subsequently identified as coming from the hospital's ventilation system. The latest episode of fumes resulted in several nurses and doctors falling ill.

Tufton said that, since the latest issues, the hospital's boiler, which was housed in the basement and connected to the facility's chimney, has since been relocated outside the building.

'The boiler was connected to a chimney stack right under here, so the emissions that went up were coming out at different points and contributing to the contamination of the building itself," said Tufton.

"By relocating the boiler outside the building, we are reconfiguring the building's operational layout."