Shift pressure from hospitals to clinics, says former CRH chairman
The Government has been urged to place more focus on primary healthcare so that the health centres can become the first option for persons seeking medical attention.
Calvin G. Brown, former chairman of the board at the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) in Montego Bay, has charged that community medicine has been devalued. He has dubbed that a regression from the heydays when experts from Europe travelled to Jamaica to study its model
The key to lifting the profile of community health medicine, said Brown, was the equipping of local health centres with mobile medical equipment.
“They need to put some of the diagnostic equipment such as portable X-ray machines in certain clinics and portable ultrasounds so that when the doctors go there, they don’t have to send them to the hospitals,” said Brown.
“Yes, the digital portable X-rays are expensive, but you are not buying 100 of them at the same time and they are not going in all of the clinics,” he added.
Citing Cuba as a model Jamaica could follow, he said persons have to be referred from clinics before they visit the hospital except in emergency cases. That paradigm could be crucial, he said, in easing the caseload at the CRH, which has been in the throes of renovation and displacement for more than three years.
The former board chairman believes that community health aides should be empowered to monitor the recovery of persons in the comfort of their homes after they have been discharged from hospital.
“One of the critical things that need to be done is to repopulate the clinic with community health aides because one of the problems you have is that, when you take the people out of the hospital and you send them home, there is no follow-up, and they come back to the hospitals,” said Brown.
He further disclosed that much of the woe being experienced at local hospitals was related to persons in need of nebulisation for oxygen deficits. Failure to follow doctors’ advice on medication regimen is also a key fault, he said.
“The rate of readmission to hospitals is because you don’t have community medicine,” argued Brown. “Some time ago, we used to have nurses attached to those clinics so that if you have a problem at night, the nurse would be there and would be able to assist.”
Brown also noted that the absence of young doctors at health centres to lower wages on rotations.