Health Minister Insists 10-Day Evacuation Wasn’t Feasible

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Health Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, says he’s not apologizing for refusing to accept a recommendation by then Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Winston De La Haye, last February, that he should evacuate the Cornwall Regional Hospital in 10 days.

The recommendation to evacuate the hospital was reportedly unanimously supported by the other senior technocrats who make up the health ministry’s technical management team.

The St. James-based facility has been plagued by persistently poor air quality issues. It was declared a national crisis by the government in 2016.

Dr. Tufton says the recommendation to evacuate the building in 10 days was unfeasible. He says advice was also sought from the Pan-American Health Organization, PAHO, on the matter.

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The Minister says no practical alternative to house patients and critical services, were being offered by those who suggested the building be evacuated.

Dr Tufton also says he made the critical decision that the facility would remain open while the evacuation occurred on a phased basis.

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Stevian Simmonds is an investigative journalist with almost 3 years of experience in radio broadcasting, production and reporting. She graduated from Caribbean School of Media and Communication in 2014 and joined Nationwide News in 2016. In 2018, she produced a special report examining the working conditions of the Bussiness Process Outsourcing Industry. She worked undercover as a call center agent for a month, revealing the lack of data protection and general security infrastructure in the industry. Her report also highlighted the poor working conditions and remuneration faced by workers in the industry. In 2018, Stevian traveled to New Delhi India where she participated in the Inaugural WHO Partners Forum benefiting from critical training related to reporting on women’s and children’s health issues.