Sav's social patients problem set to linger on
The administration at the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital in Westmoreland might be forced to continue to grapple with its 'social patients' issue for some time to come as the building, which was earmarked to house them, is unfit to suit that purpose.
Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton recently proposed that an unoccupied building in the town be renovated to house the 20 'social patients' so as to free up bed space at the Type B hospital. However, it was subsequently discovered that the building had been condemned and is therefore, unfit for use.
In giving an update on the relocation plan on Monday, Errol Greene, the regional director for the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), said that alternative locations would have to be discussed with the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation.
"A building was identified [to house the social patients], but when we checked, it was not suitable as it was condemned," said Green. "So we're going back to the drawing board to see if we can find another building owned by the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation that we can retrofit to move these social cases out of the hospital."
The WRHA boss also used the opportunity to renew his call for the families of social patients, who remain at the hospital, even after being released, to take responsibility for them and move them out of the facility.
"We have to ask persons to take responsibility for their loved ones. It's a chronic situation in all hospitals in Jamaica because relatives will bring their loved ones into the accident and emergency wards and leave them there," said Green. "We have relatives who dump their loved ones on the hospital because they feel the hospital staff have an obligation to take care of them."
Last month, Tufton acknowledged that the families of social patients need to be taught about their responsibility towards their relatives.
"Social cases are an ongoing challenge, and we have to do a lot more to get family members to recognise their responsibility to take care of their loved ones when they are incapacitated," said Tufton.
Plans were announced last December for the construction of a new block at the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital to increase its bed count to 300.