Mon | Jan 21, 2019

Trauma centre in Negril to bolster health services

Published:Saturday | December 6, 2014 | 12:00 AM
District Officer Taleeni Francis
Residents gather around this motor vehicle in Lances Bay in Hanover in January 2007, following an accident which claimed the lives of two people and left another badly injured. Lances Bay lies between Lucea and Negril.

Claudia Gardner, Assignment Coordinator


After years of lobbying, members of the Negril private sector have decided to take matters into their own hands to raise funds to enable a partnership with the Ministry of Health for the establishment of a trauma-care centre within the resort town.

Retired intensive care nurse and board member of the Negril Chamber of Commerce, Elaine Bradley, told Western Focus on Wednesday that the facility was long overdue and urgently needed as the town's needs could not be met by the current facilities at the Negril Health Centre. She said preliminary discussions had already taken place with the health authorities at the parish level for the centre to be constructed on available lands at the Negril Health Centre and that the chamber had received positive feedback so far.

"It (trauma centre) is needed badly, badly," Bradley stressed. "There was one accident today where two people died. We need a mini trauma centre with first responders and ambulances to be kept there rather than given to the fire station. We need a 24-hour trauma centre in Negril, a tourist resort town. It is a shame; we have not even got an ambulance."

Private-public partnership

"The whole idea is that the clinic will remain, servicing the local people as it is running now, but more efficiently. But on top of that, we remodel the whole thing that, it remains as a private-public partnership, doing what it is doing now but in a more effective way, and then we add to it like five stations where, if people have an accident, they go there, be stabilised and transported elsewhere," she added.

Director of the Negril Resort Board and operator of the Charela Inn, Daniel Grizzle, told Western Focus that Negril's situation had now reached the point of desperation.

"I think as far as the private sector is concerned, we would be willing to make some form of contribution. Because, let's face it, we are so desperate that the private sector will be willing - not to do it all, but to make a contribution, and if the Government side comes up with a sensible plan, we will play our part," Grizzle said.

"We are not that poor that we can't do it. I think what you find is a lack of will to do things, and it is time the authorities care enough to want to do it. There is a committee in place looking at what we can do to upgrade the centre, with a giant effort between the Government and private sector. We realise we haven't got a government or a country which is very wealthy, but they are not poor either, and things like the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), which is exactly for this kind of thing could play an important role. The private sector is willing to play its part; the funds are at TEF. All you have to do is have the will to do it." Grizzle added.

Head of the Emergency Medical Services of the Hanover Health Department, district officer Taleeni Francis, is in full support of the move. He said a hospital should have been factored in the development of Negril and that, coupled with the most westerly sections of Hanover, has one of, if not, the highest number of annual trauma cases in the island.

High-risk area

"Negril is regarded as a high-risk area, because of, especially, the types of marine recreational activities, rising population, hotel occupancy, magnitude of buildings, and so forth. But, if there were to be a mass casualty situation, there is no way the Negril Health Centre can accommodate that. They (injured) would have to go to Sav or Lucea, and Lucea is not even equipped for a mass casualty situation either. Negril is the location which I think would be the best choice because people from Orange Bay and those areas could get to Negril faster than they would get to Lucea. So, when you look at it, a facility in Negril or if not, in the Orange Bay area with proper trauma centre, X-ray department and maybe a surgical ward would be perfect to sustain Negril," Francis said.

"Negril has more trauma cases than anywhere else. Even the fire station in Negril has to accommodate quite a few trauma cases. They have a whole lot of trauma walk-in patients at the Negril Fire Station, because, from my understanding, the people prefer to go to the fire station as opposed to the clinic," he added.