Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter
The issue of security at public health facilities has resurfaced with critical health sector groups raising concerns about the safety of their members and the patients in their care.
The issue came back to public attention yesterday following an incident at May Pen Hospital in which a patient was killed by gunmen.
In a release, the Jamaica Medical Doctors' Association (JMDA) said it viewed with great concern the incident that occurred at the hospital "which is a reflection of the gross disregard for staff at public health care institutions".
The group called for Govern-ment to take a rational look at health-care institutions and in consultation with the Jamaica Constabulary Force, implement safety measures as needed.
Breakdown of morals
"This, again, is a reflection of the breakdown of morals and values in society which has (raised) its ugly head," the release stated.
"The present state of many hospitals across the country allows for this type of occurrence, there needs to be changes in the way individuals involved in violence are managed on presentation to hospitals," it continued.
Dr Orville Morgan, president of the Association of Government Medical Consultants, raised questions about security at the facilities, but refused to comment in detail about the issue, saying he did not have enough information to do so.
"This has just represented where we are in terms of our safety in the hospitals. There should not be an institution in which this sort of thing can happen or does happen," he told The Gleaner.
He said the issue brings to the fore the level of disregard some persons have for important facilities in society.
"This has been happening for a very long time but we should have passed that stage ... there is no regard at all for any of the institutions, whether it be the church, hospital, or school by certain elements of the society," he added.
President of the Medical Association of Jamaica, Dr Aggrey Irons, condemned the incident saying the values of society have eroded to the point where things that were considered sacred are now treated with scant regard.
"I think that a treatment centre is a sacred place, not unlike a church where life-giving activities take place. I think that when we get to a stage in our development where negative elements start to lose respect for what is really holy ground, then we have to really sit up and take notice and we have to take practical steps to prevent this type of thing from occurring," he said.
"It is something the we must take responsibility for and putting more police, guards and dogs at a location is one thing, but what we are really looking at is the deterioration in the value that we have put on life," he said.
Last October, a female doctor attached to the Kingston Public Hospital was accosted in the parking lot by a man who stole a piece of jewellery.
The robber was chased by security personnel and staff members but escaped.