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Cornwall Regional Hospital rebounding apace

Published:Friday | August 25, 2017 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas
Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton (second left) on a tour of the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay. Also pictured are (from left) Dr Ken-Garfield Douglas, director of the Western Regional Health Authority; Sancia Templer-Bennett, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health; and Anthony Smikle, chief executive officer at the Cornwall Regional Hospital.


Eight months after being impacted by a noxious fumes problem, which severely disrupted normal services, Health Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton says the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) in Montego Bay is steadily returning to normalcy as restoration work continues apace.

Two months ago, the noxious fumes resurfaced briefly, which forced the relocation of the antenatal clinic from the fifth floor to the sixth floor of the 10-storey Type A hospital, but according to the health minister, the restoration work is going quite well.

"Except for a few minor delays, things are going well. We still have a team from the United Nations with us and they are on the ground working as we speak," Tufton stated earlier this week.

When The Gleaner visited the Mt Salem-based hospital yesterday, except for a few makeshift structures at various locations on the compound, things appeared fairly normal, with doctors and nurses doing their rounds and patients going in and out.

According to Tufton, he is expecting a full report on the status of the repairs by next Monday, at which time he will be able to determine how close the hospital is to full restoration of all its services.


Respiratory issues


The issue of noxious fumes at the CRH first surfaced in January when several departments on the first three floors had to be relocated due to complaints by both staff and patients about respiratory issues. Their complaints were found to be related to the offensive fumes.

Investigations by the health ministry and a team from the Pan American Health Organization subsequently found that the hospital's ageing ventilation system, which was abandoned for several years, but which had been recently restored to service, was the cause of the problem.

Two months ago, noxious fumes were again detected at the hospital, raising fresh concerns about the work that was being done on the ventilation system. However, it was discovered that the source of the new problem was an old chimney. The matter has since been dealt with.

With the hospital's sixth floor now back to normal, paving the way for the return of the antenatal clinic, the focus is now the radiotherapy unit, which provides critical services for cancer patients, and the operating theatres on the fifth floor.