Overcrowding! Percy Junor Hospital struggles to handle patient intake
Dave Lindo, Gleaner Writer
THE PERCY Junor Hospital in Spaldings, Clarendon, is facing a major crisis: inadequate space in its Accident and Emergency (A&E) unit, which has to deal with an increased volume of patients on a daily basis.
With this situation, the hospital has embarked on a project to build a new A&E department that is projected to cost $300 million.
As operations nanager at the hospital, Sharon Pitter, explained: "Our patient flow has increased over the years. The demand is so great that the tiny area we have for patients has outgrown the population. We need to have an A & E department with far more space so that the staff, doctors, and nurses can provide service in a more professional and efficient manner. The situation now is that you will have two nurses sitting there with two patients. Each patient can hear what the other is saying; there is no privacy."
Shedding more light on the situation, Senior Medical Officer Carlos Wilson said: "It's really a credit to the staff to function with what we have. What we have wasn't designed for this. We are talking over 50, 000 patients passing through per year. It cannot adequately facilitate this."
Newly appointed chief executive officer of the hospital, Earl McLaughlin, indicated that preliminary plans have been prepared for the project. "All the (architectural) drawings have been done courtesy of the CHASE fund. We have done all the costing. All we need now is the money to build it. The vision that I have is that it will be built in five years. We just need some major corporate sponsorship to make it a reality," he reported.
The Percy Junor Hospital, despite its problems, manages to maintain a high standard of health care. The institution has won several awards as the best customer-friendly hospital in Jamaica.
There are some caring members of the Spaldings community who have assisted the hospital in various ways. One such person is returning resident and retired nurse Vinnette Gordon-Cole, who assisted in building a well-needed sterilisation and storage department. "This unit has helped us a lot, as well as other hospitals," McLaughlin disclosed. At times, Mandeville or May Pen (hospitals) come up and use the facility. It is a tight relationship within the hospitals. When we have breakdowns, we access theirs."
The Friends of Percy Junor Hospital has also played a major role in the development of the facility. As disclosed by McLaughlin, the group is currently working on a project to improve the laundry department and toilet facilities.
Another problem that the hospital faces is that of medication supplies. "With the great demand for medication, sometimes we have to lean back on our suppliers to assist us and we give them a promissory note," McLaughlin said. "We have to do what we have to do to help our patients."