Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
An increase in the patient load at the St Annís Bay Regional Hospital because of dengue and other seasonal illnesses, has forced the Ministry of Health to extend service hours at the St Annís Bay and Ocho Rios health centres.
In a release Thursday evening, the North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA) said both centres will remain open until 8:00 pm, Monday to Friday, an extension of four hours beyond the usual 4:00 pm closing time.
Additionally, the St Annís Bay health centre will open on Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, while the Ocho Rios centre will open on Saturdays from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.
An increase in the number of dengue cases recently has raised concern across the island.
This week the Ministry of Health said there were over 1,400 reported cases of the virus.
Earlier this week the ministry activated an Emergency Operations Centre at its Kingston offices to respond to and monitor the effects of the outbreak.
The ministry said then that it had intensified its dengue control response after weekly monitoring by its National Surveillance Unit and the Virology Reference Lab at the University of the West Indies, indicated a rapid increase in the clinically suspected cases of dengue and laboratory-confirmed cases.
On Thursday, NERHA advised the public to expect increased waiting times for accessing some services at the hospital because of the increased patient load, and also reduced visitation times as well as the number of visitors allowed on affected wards.
ĎWe also urge persons with non-urgent conditions to visit their nearest Health Centres as a large number of health issues can be effectively managed in these facilities,Ē the NERHA spokesperson said in the release.