Sun | Sep 19, 2021

Greene likens CRH crisis to a war zone

Published:Friday | February 26, 2021 | 12:13 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
WRHA Regional Director Errol Greene.
WRHA Regional Director Errol Greene.


The head of the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA) has likened the operations of the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, St James, to a war zone as it grapples to find space to admit a rising number of COVID-19 patients.

The Type A medical facility, which has already exhausted its initial bed spaces allocated to treat COVID-19 patients, has had to be converting other areas of the hospital to accommodate the increasing number of patients in respiratory distress.

“The available bed spaces may not be enough, but we are looking at every available space that we have, and we have just converted the area at the CRH that we used to treat persons who come in with asthma to house some of our very sick COVID-19 patients. We are also creating a new space to treat asthma patients,” WRHA Regional Director Errol Greene told The Gleaner yesterday.

“We have a finite amount of space, and we are pretty much operating in a combat zone as far as the CRH is concerned at the moment,” he said.

Greene said that despite the crisis, the WRHA has been receiving offers for medical tents to ease the burden.

“We have had offers from certain groups – for example, from one of the Masonic lodges – to give us a fully equipped medical tent, and we are looking forward to receiving that, but we are also looking at other ways to temporarily relocate patients while we are treating them,” Greene said, even as he keeps an eye on the situation at the other three hospitals in the region.

The Falmouth Public General Hospital in Trelawny, the Savanna-la-Mar Public Hospital in Westmoreland, and the Noel Holmes Hospital in Lucea, Hanover, have all reported COVID-19 beds to be above 90 per cent of capacity.

Out of Jamaica’s tally of 22,267 recorded COVID-19 cases since the start of the local outbreak up to Wednesday, St James has the highest number under the WRHA’s jurisdiction (2,376), followed by Westmoreland (961), Trelawny (778), and then Hanover (583).

St James remains the parish with the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases islandwide, behind Kingston and St Andrew’s 6,301 and St Catherine’s 4,304.

Greene also noted that the WRHA is addressing the increased demand for medical gases at the region’s hospitals, which is crucial in treating COVID-19 patients who require oxygen support.

“We have some issues with medical gases as there is a spike in demand, and we are seeing a situation where we used to refill the gases every three days or so, but now we have to be doing it at least once a day. We have also looked at new processes on how we manage our medical gases because we know that that management is very critical at this time to support our efforts,” said Greene.

Despite the worsening situation, there is still resistance among members of the public to mask-wearing orders issued, with some business owners facing abuse for trying to enforce the health and safety protocols.

“We have to stand up or they will just barge in without the mask, some claiming that COVID-19 is a hoax,” a business operator told The Gleaner yesterday. “The education is missing its mark because there are many persons out there refusing to wear masks.”