Sat | Sep 23, 2023

KPH renal unit without AC for two months

Published:Tuesday | May 9, 2023 | 1:08 AMSashana Small/Staff Reporter
Kingston Public Hospital.

PATIENTS and staff at the Kingston Public Hospital’s (KPH) renal unit have been enduring the sweltering heat in the building for the last two months due to a malfunctioning air conditioning (AC) system.

A technician, who spoke to The Gleaner on condition of anonymity, said the situation is so bad that patients are at risk of fainting.

“The patients can black out on the machine because they will be sweating – that’s losing fluid, and they are already pulling off liquid, so they might tek off more than enough fluid, and that will cause dem to drop dem pressure,” the staff member said.

And while John*, a patient at the facility, has not experienced fainting because of the heat, he believes he has come close.

“You get this very, very tired feeling,” he said, adding that he has to drive himself to and fro for his two dialysis appointments every week. “When I get home, it’s straight to bed, it is not even thinking about anything else but just going straight to bed.”

For the technician, the heat makes his working environment uncomfortable.

“Yuh inna yuh uniform and ya sweat, the place set a way where it’s not ventilated so you can get breeze through the windows because the building is between other buildings so breeze nah come through the windows, and fans not working well in there,” he said.

While disclosing that people have not been showing up to work because of the heat, the technician said that management is not doing enough to address their complaints.

“Every second it out and dem claim to seh dem come and fix it, dem wash it out and stuff like dat and den two weeks’ time, it gone again.”

KPH is one of five public hospitals that have renal-care units, with 17 haemodialysis machines in total.

In March, KPH was equipped with 10 replacement haemodialysis machines. The machines were donated by the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund at a cost of $30 million.

And the technician is concerned that the excessive heat could affect the machines as well.

“The machines need to be at a certain temperature; they need to be cool. If the machines are not cool, it will affect them by giving false alarms and stuff like that… it has to be under air condition. Air conditioning is not just a form of luxury for the patients, it is good for the machines.”


Meanwhile John, who visits the facility two times each week for treatment, told The Gleaner that he dreads going.

“My shirt is soaking wet from sweat when I get off the machine. And even sitting at the machine I don’t even close up my shirt, I leave it open because once you close it up it’s more heat you put on to yourself, and because the machines are so close to the chair dem the machine put off a whole bunch a heat to,” he said.

“It’s spring and the time is so hot can you imagine what will happen in June, July, August?” he asked. “The powers that be don’t seem to even care. Every day you hear different things,” he stated.

But Regional Director of the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA), Errol Greene, told The Gleaner that he is aware of the issue and the hospital is working to address it.

“The air condition unit is down and it is being worked on, I think they have to get the parts from overseas ... the contractor is dealing with it, the supplier is trying to source the parts to have it fixed,” he said, while noting that the air-conditioning unit does provide service from time to time.

Greene, however, could not provide a timeline for when the issue will be fixed, and directed The Gleaner to the hospital’s chief executive officer, Colin Cooper. But up to press time yesterday, questions sent to Cooper remained unanswered.

*Name changed on request