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Gov't spends $1.7 billion on security at health facilities in south east region amid islandwide security audit

Published:Sunday | January 5, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton (centre); Board Chairman of the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA), Wentworth Charles (left) and Regional Director, SERHA, Maureen Golding, sign contracts to strengthen security protocols at several public health facilities.

The government is currently conducting an audit of security arrangements at public health institutions across the island.

"This is a new approach and it is in keeping with our vision that aims to be more responsive to what is happening in the environment,” stated Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton.

“We will be looking at how we can boost that security, both in terms of the contracts that we sign and the supporting infrastructure – access to buildings, cameras and responsiveness," he explained.

The disclosure was made as the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MHW) announced that it would be spending more than $1.7 billion over three years to strengthen security at public health facilities managed by the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA).

The MHW signed the contract on January 3 with five security firms that will be providing the services. They are: Marksman Limited, Shalk Electronic Security Limited, Atlas Group Incorporated Limited, Modern Investigation and Security Limited and King Alarm Securities Limited, to provide security detail at these public health institutions.

The public health facilities that will benefit include: Spanish Town Hospital, Linstead Hospital, St Catherine Health Department, Kingston and St Andrew Health Department, Princess Margaret Hospital, St Thomas Health Department, Bustamante Hospital for Children, National Chest Hospital, Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre, and the Kingston Public and Victoria Jubilee Hospitals.

Among the security protocols to be implemented are 24-hour foot patrols, requirement for identification badges to be worn by members of staff, regular spot checks of sterile areas (regions housing standby generators, air conditioning plant and boiler room), and signs displaying visiting hours are to be mounted. Additionally, personal belongings will be subject to search pending approval by an authorising officer.

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, who spoke at the signing, said: “A public health institution is intended to provide a safe space for persons who need help. Not just safe in terms of infection control, but also in terms of physical safety.  As a government, we take the threat to persons who use these facilities, whether patients or staff, very seriously. We invest in security to give reassurance and support to technical staff and patients who use these institutions.”

Meanwhile chairman of SERHA, Wentworth Charles, said the MHW's investment is an indication of the importance that the Government places on security at health institutions.

“It is a large sum of money that the State is investing in security at the hospitals, and that suggests the importance that the Ministry of Health places on security. In the contracts that we are signing today, there are provisions set out that will ensure the safety and security of our staff and patients,” he said.

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