Sat | Jun 19, 2021

Tufton calls for reflection on public health sector

Published:Friday | June 11, 2021 | 12:06 AMRuddy Mathison/Gleaner Writer
Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton (second right), unveils the plaque to officially open the Kenneth Baugh Health Centre in Point Hill, St Catherine, on Wednesday, June 9. Looking on are Baugh’s widow, Vilma (right), and his children,
Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton (second right), unveils the plaque to officially open the Kenneth Baugh Health Centre in Point Hill, St Catherine, on Wednesday, June 9. Looking on are Baugh’s widow, Vilma (right), and his children, Melanie Schwapp and Gregory Baugh.

With state-owned hospitals coming under increased criticisms about unsatisfactory service and care, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton on Wednesday called for a national reflection on public health.

“Our role is in the service of people, and in serving people when they are in their most distressing state; because that’s what sickness does, it places you in a state of fear, panic and uncertainty that you first have to alleviate,” Tufton stated.

“You have to cauterise the psychological state of mind, even before you assess, diagnose and treat,” he added.

Tufton was speaking at the handover of a new $42-million Type 3 health centre in Point Hill, St Catherine, named after the late Dr Kenneth Baugh, who served as Jamaica’s health minister for nine years and as member of parliament (MP) for the St Catherine West Central constituency for two terms.

Tufton succeeded Baugh as MP.

Without naming the Spanish Town Hospital directly, where 26-year-old Shanique Armstrong recently alleged that nurses refused to respond to her cries for help when she was in labour, forcing her to have her baby without assistance from the medical staff in full view of other patients, Tufton said, “The news around particular cases in our hospital system is causing us to lose our momentum ... the advantages that we have in the response that is required to serve the health and wellness of our population.

LACK OF CONFIDENCE

“It is not that our doctors and nurses are less qualified to do their jobs, but with this momentum that is lost, people will stop believing in us and the confidence that is necessary to advance in expert opinion that is required,” he added.

Tufton said people, having heard this, will begin to doubt the sincerity and passion of public health practitioners, and no matter how good they are as nurses and doctors, it can really add up to nought.

“The solution is not just on the prescription pad, it is how you deal with people. The conversation must be around service with compassionate care,” Tufton emphasised.

Five thousand residents of Point Hill and its environs will now benefit from health services provided at the newly constructed health centre.

The building includes a registry for record-keeping, an immunisation area, an antenatal and postnatal facility, a lunch room, a laboratory, a dressing room, and a doctor’s office.

It offers the following services: maternal and child health, family planning, curative, Pap smear, dressing and immunisation.

Chief executive officer of the National Health Fund, Everton Anderson, said there will also be a pharmacy at the centre.

Tufton urged the staff to let the facility truly represent the spirit that lives on as part of Baugh’s legacy.

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