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Hospitals battle heat, drought - Victoria Jubilee suffers water shortage, UHWI postpones surgeries

Published:Friday | July 11, 2014 | 7:00 AM

 Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter

The health sector, which is already reeling under the pressure of shortages of vital supplies and malfunctioning equipment, suffered a further setback yesterday with the postponement of surgeries at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) and a lack of water at the maternity facility, the Victoria Jubilee Hospital (VJH) in Kingston, over which some nurses demonstrated.

Elective surgeries scheduled for this week at the UHWI were postponed following the closure of its main operating theatre.

Dr Cecil White, chief executive officer of the UHWI, said that the main operating theatre has been out of commission for the past three days as the air-conditioning unit was malfunctioning.

"We took down the air-conditioning unit for servicing, so what we have done is reschedule elective surgeries and we are using other theatres to treat patients on an emergency basis," White told The Gleaner yesterday.

He said the work being done on the unit would also affect two or three other smaller operating theatres.

White said the temperature in the main operating room was elevated and a deliberate decision was made to take down the air-conditioning unit for servicing.

"We are now rescheduling the ones (surgeries) that were scheduled for now, and we are using the other theatres that are available to us," he added.

He said he was unable to say the number of surgeries they had to reschedule, but the unit was not expected to be back in operation until the middle of next week.

White emphasised that the public would not be affected by the closure as there were several other smaller theatres that were capable of handling emergency cases.

"They (patients) are scheduled for different theatres and we have the private wing, Tony Thwaites, that also has an operating theatre. So what is happening is that we have increased the load to there, and we have increased the load to other theatres like the one in the fertility management unit," he said.

PATIENTS TURNED BACK

White said efforts were made to contact persons who were scheduled for surgeries; however, a few persons who they were unable to reach came and had to be turned back.

The doctor said they have not been affected by the lack of water supply that caused disruption yesterday at another of the Corporate Area's main hospitals, the VJH.

Reports are that yesterday, some medical staff at the VJH had walked off the job as they complained that they were being forced to work with little or no water.

Public relations officer at the South East Regional Health Authority, Taneisha Lewis, said the National Water Commission trucked water to the VJH yesterday and there has been no other report of any health facility being affected by the limited water supply.