Wed | Oct 28, 2020

US gifts Jamaica multimillion dollar field hospital to help COVID-19 fight

Published:Saturday | September 19, 2020 | 4:17 PM
The United States government has donated a 70-bed mobile field hospital to Jamaica to assist the country’s coronavirus fight

The United States government has donated a 70-bed mobile field hospital to Jamaica to assist the country’s coronavirus fight. 

The US$753,000 facility was transported to Kingston today by the US Air Force, and will be set up in St Andrew.  

It was purchased as part of US Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) ongoing assistance to the Caribbean, Central America and South America.  

On September 10, Health and Wellness Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, announced that a field hospital would be established in the Corporate Area within the next two weeks.  

The hospital is equipped to operate autonomously and includes a high efficiency particulate air and ultraviolet-light air-scrubber system, two diesel generators, and eight air conditioning units, a Saturday statement from SOUTHCOM said.  

“Medical teams using the hospital can configure it to isolate patients and conduct surgical operations, if needed.” 

The statement said the hospital will be set up September 21 – 23 before being officially delivered to the Jamaican government on September 24 at a ceremony at the National Chest Hospital in St Andrew. 

“A team of civilian trainers will instruct Jamaican medical and support teams chosen to run the mobile hospital on its assembly, set up, use, disassembly, transportation and storage.” 

SOUTHCOM says it has also funded the donation of hand-held thermometers and patient beds, at a cost of approximately US$86,000. 

It says the total cost of support to Jamaica to fight COVID, and other infectious diseases has amounted to US$2 million. 

The local health authorities have been under pressure for a field hospital because of the current surge in coronavirus cases and resultant burdening of the system. 

In April, permanent secretary in the Health and Wellness Ministry Dunstan Bryan told a parliamentary committee that $182 million was to be spent to set up a field hospital at the National Arena.  

The intention was for the facility to be brought into service if Jamaica was going through as spike and function as an isolation location for persons who test positive for COVID-19 as well as those who have mild symptoms of the disease. 

The government later said it was reconsidering the location with little updates since. 

But the spike since August has led to renewed calls with increasing complaints from health workers about the limited resources at leading facilities in the COVID-19 response.   

On April 7 when the update on the field hospital was given, Jamaica had 63 confirmed cases and three deaths.  

The latest figures up to yesterday showed 4,758 cases on the island with 60 deaths recorded.  

Follow The Gleaner on Twitter and Instagram @JamaicaGleaner and on Facebook @GleanerJamaica. Send us a message on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169 or email us at onlinefeedback@gleanerjm.com or editors@gleanerjm.com.