Tue | Sep 28, 2021

Falmouth breathes easier as oxygen tanks installed

Published:Wednesday | March 24, 2021 | 12:13 AMLeon Jackson/Gleaner Writer
A patient is wheeled into the COVID-19 ward at the field hospital on the grounds of the Falmouth Hospital. The facility has received two bulk oxygen tanks.
A patient is wheeled into the COVID-19 ward at the field hospital on the grounds of the Falmouth Hospital. The facility has received two bulk oxygen tanks.

Falmouth Hospital’s capacity to treat patients with respiratory issues has been bolstered by the installation of two 22,200lb medical oxygen bulk tanks.

The islandwide rise in admissions linked to COVID-19, a respiratory disease, has sparked a crisis in oxygen supplies.

Errol Greene, regional director of the Western Regional Health Authority, said the installation of the bulk oxygen tanks was a welcome intervention after the recent addition of a 36-bed COVID-19 field hospital.

The new tanks are projected to have a three-week capacity.

“What obtained up to recently was each bed for COVID patients would have an oxygen cylinder close by,” Greene told The Gleaner on Tuesday.

“The beds have now been piped to receive oxygen. There is no more need for porters to be taking cylinders from one point to another.”

Businessman Kenneth Grant, chairman of the board, who has lobbied long for Falmouth Hospital to be upgraded to Type B, reflected on its increased responsibilities as the west’s premier hospital.

Montego Bay’s Cornwall Regional Hospital, a Type A facility, has been undergoing major repairs since 2017.

“I am happy for this improvement. This bulk oxygen installation cuts down on the need for daily refilling,” said Grant.

All 36 beds at the new field hospital are occupied.

However, Dr Leighton Perrins, senior medical officer at the Falmouth Hospital, said that the recovery rate of COVID-19 patients made case management tolerable.

“The field hospital serves the hospitals in the western region. When patients at the Falmouth facility get better, they are discharged, making space available for patients from any of the other three hospitals in the region,” said Perrins.

With the $200-million field hospital set to be retained after the pandemic passes, overall bed capacity at Falmouth will stand at 220. That will help make the case for hospital reclassification, said the board chair.

“The days of patients being admitted sitting on chairs will thankfully be over,” said Grant.