Sat | Jun 12, 2021

Tufton: No need for a field hospital in MoBay

Published:Thursday | January 21, 2021 | 12:05 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Dr Christopher Tufton
Dr Christopher Tufton
Janet Silvera
Janet Silvera


Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has rejected the call by stakeholders in Montego Bay for the establishment of a COVIDF-19 field hospital at the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH), saying the one being established in Falmouth, Trelawny, will have the capacity to handle excess cases.

“We are building one at Falmouth (in Trelawny) and it will create excess capacity for any overflow, and that facility is expected to be ready for the middle of next month,” said Tufton, in responding to questions from the media following a recent tour of the CRH.

Silvera’s Stance

Tufton’s position is unlikely to find favour with businesswoman Janet Silvera, president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), who has been at the forefront of the call for the field hospital, saying that CRH, which is now operating below its full capacity amid ongoing works to rebound from a toxic fume issue, is under intense pressure from COVID-19 cases.

In making the call for the field hospital in Montego Bay, Silvera said that in addition to taking some of the pressure off CRH, by virtue of the location, it would be better able to serve the entire western region.

“To circumvent this, the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry is strongly suggesting that a field hospital be implemented. We believe a field hospital for Cornwall Regional Hospital would be effective, as the hospital serves the entire western region and was already overburdened before the pandemic,” said Silvera.

“One of the major concerns is going into the hospital without the virus and walking out infected, because there is not enough separation for non-COVID-19 patients who need critical care. A field hospital would effectively limit the risk of exposure,” added Silvera.

Diiffering Views

While she is of the general view that the virus has been around long enough for a more ‘proactive approach’ to be taken to handling it, Tufton is of the view that the COVID-19 situation is at a stage that would not warrant such an intervention at this time.

“If it’s a field hospital for general services, we are not of the view that we need a field hospital at this point in time,” argued Tufton. “Again, we should not confuse the incomplete nature of the building with the service provision of the hospital, because the services are still there.”

“I am not saying that we can’t add one or two things. I would love to see us doing a little more surgeries, and maybe another one or two areas that we could add to facilitate the supporting infrastructure and so, but to build a field hospital as a replacement for what is here, we don’t think we are there yet, or at this point in time,” added Tufton.