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Clinics easing burden of Cornwall Regional Hospital

Published:Thursday | February 15, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas/ Gleaner Writer
Cornwall Regional Hospital.


The accident and emergency (A&E) department at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James, which is now operating out of the Mt Salem Health Centre, is seeing significantly reduced numbers than previous years as from all indications, there is now a greater reliance on the health centre in the parish.

Based on statistics released by the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), only 13,592 persons showed up at the A&E department last year, which was significantly less than the 31,695 that accessed the facility in 2016.

"With the conversion of the Mt Salem clinic to the A&E department for Cornwall Regional, the extended hours from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. were discontinued. That would have accounted for the drastic reduction seen in the number of curative visits to Mt Salem," said Dr Ken-Garfield Douglas, who heads the WRHA.

"In early 2017, we had four different locations, so persons decided they would not accept those locations until the arrangement was properly set up."

The situation at Cornwall Regional appears to be perfectly in line with the objectives of the Ministry of Health, which is pushing for more persons to pursue primary healthcare at the island's health centres.




"We believe that if the primary healthcare facilities were to function adequately, you could get up to 40 per cent of that load off the A&E because persons would seek solutions at the primary facility," health minister Dr Christopher Tufton told The Gleaner last July.

"What we have to do now is to ensure that the services that are offered respond to the population's demand or needs and that the public information is convincing enough to cause people to go to the clinics first, rather than to go directly to the hospital."

Cornwall Regional's accident and emergency services were shifted to the Mt Salem clinic after the Type A medical facility was affected by air-quality problems last January. Noxious fumes from the ventilation system resulted in several services being relocated to the grounds of the hospital as well as to the neighbouring West Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

However, it should be noted that the Type V clinic on Creek Street in downtown Montego Bay, which is arguably the most popular health facility outside of Cornwall Regional, saw increased numbers last year in comparison to the previous year.

Based on WRHA statistics, 28,848 patients visited the Creek Street facility last year, which is an increase of over 9,000 more than the number for 2016.

Statistics also show that in 2017, 573, new surgeries assigned to Cornwall Regional were performed at the Falmouth Public Hospital.