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Decisive action coming - Tufton vows to prevent repeat of bodies of babies found outside morgue

Published:Friday | October 12, 2018 | 12:00 AM
KPH morgue attendant Barrington Thompson shows a fridge used to store bodies during a ‘Sunday Gleaner’ tour of the facility last week.

Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton has vowed to move decisively to address any deficiencies which led to the bodies of two babies being found outside the morgue at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH).

Tufton, who ordered an investigation into the matter, told The Sunday Gleaner that he has accepted the report and the recommendations presented following a probe by officials of the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA).

"There were clearly several breaches which seem to have been the case for a very long time," said Tufton.

"I have also written to the other regional authorities requesting of them to audit similar operations in the hospitals in their region, and take corrective action where necessary.

"It is important that where there are breaches, these are corrected, and where necessary persons are held to account. I think we are doing that," added Tufton.

He said the ministry intends to be decisive in correcting the shortcomings.


Challenges identified during SERHA probe


- Improper storage of neonates.

- Overload of refrigerator that stores the neonates.

- Burial orders not prepared in a timely manner.

- Missing bodies when handing over to Brown's Funeral Home.

- Lack of documentation.

- Infection prevention and control issues.

- Poor aesthetics at the morgue.

- Poor communication.

- Non-compliance with the procedures manuals.


Improvement activities implemented to date by SERHA


- A daily census of all bodies (adults and neonates) at the morgue is done. That of the neonates is sent daily to the VJH death registry.

- Biweekly, the death registry produces a report of all bodies at the morgue and their categories.

- A cleaning schedule and weekly schedule for the morgue staff is now posted.

- Improved record keeping.

- When bodies are being retrieved by Brown's Funeral Home, the listing is compared with the master list to verify/ensure that they receive all bodies on the list.

- Ongoing sensitisation meetings with morgue staff.

- A copy of the death certification and Mortuary Operations Policy and Procedures Manual has been placed at the morgue.

- Commencement of monthly minuted departmental staff meetings.

- Closed-circuit cameras were installed.

- Keycard access system installed.

- Security guards assigned.


Aesthetics improvement introduced by SERHA


- Windows sealed and painted (infection prevention and control measure).

- Improved lighting of the area - LED bulbs installed.

- Air-conditioning unit serviced.

- Visitors' bathrooms (outside of morgue) renovated and painted.

- The morgue was painted - interior and exterior.

- Electronic soap and hand towel dispensers installed.

- Missing wall tiles replaced and corner strips repaired.

- Adult refrigerator serviced and replacement motor installed.

- Floor chemically stripped.

- Leaking faucets repaired.

- Stretchers to be Board of Survey have been removed from the environs of the morgue.

- Recruitment of additional morgue attendant.