Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Sav Hospital sewage audit result expected next month

Published:Monday | January 27, 2020 | 12:14 AM

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton is expecting the independent auditor’s report on the dysfunctional wastewater treatment plant at the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital to be on his desk by mid-February.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness ordered an audit after expressing concerns about millions of dollars in overruns and complaints of a problem-plagued, incomplete system at the Westmoreland health facility. Tufton has since included all six health facilities that benefited from the Scientific Research Council (SRC)-managed sewage-improvement venture. The total cost of the project is estimated at $389.24 million.

“The audit of all the systems is currently being done and the reports are expected by mid-February, so I want to wait on that to make any further comment,” Tufton said, when an update was requested.

Stakeholders at the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital told The Gleaner that the plant had not worked consistently for more than four months since it was commissioned in 2017, and demanded an immediate fix.

“I cannot agree with anything that has been done until it is all corrected and working as it is supposed to work. A lot of money was spent, and it needs to function as a maintenance-free system, as it was designed for, and that is not the case,” committee Chairman Eric ‘Busha’ Clarke said at the time.

The SRC, which is facing sanction if found to be at fault, has rubbished the claims of mismanagement on their part, and instead has blamed staff of the hospital for wrecking the multimillion-dollar infrastructure by dumping towels, sheets and other material down the drain.

“The system would operate as designed if the poor disposal practices by the hospital are curtailed, as inorganics will take years to degrade, and the biodigesters are designed to treat organic waste such as faeces, blood, urine and other body fluids,” said a spokesperson in a statement from the board and management.

The SRC identified large sheets, towels, bandages/gauze and wash rags among the inorganics being deposited into the system. However, Tufton has dismissed the state entity’s defence as “absolute rubbish!”