Medical Staff Begin Protests at Cornwall Regional

The problems bedeviling the Cornwall Regional Hospital in St. James, are worsening.

Nurses, doctors and other staff have started to protest against the poor working conditions at the hospital, by staying off the job.

And, things could worsen as they’re planning to extend their protest island wide tomorrow. But the Health Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, is rushing to avert further protest.

He’s moving his office from Kingston to Montego Bay as part of his efforts to manage the unfolding crisis gripping the only Type A hospital serving western Jamaica.

The staff at Cornwall Regional are complaining about continuous issues with noxious emissions from the hospital’s dysfunctional ventilation system.

President of the Nurses’ Association of Jamaica, Janet Coore-Farr, says the nurses have had enough.

Mrs. Coore Farr says the nurses can no longer work in the conditions at Cornwall Regional.

Mrs. Coore Farr could not readily provide a number but says many nurses refused to work today. She says junior doctors and medical technologists are also protesting.

She says the symptoms being experienced by the staff at the hospital are worsening.

In the meantime, Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton, says he’ll meet with the nurses today to discuss their concerns.

The Cornwall Regional Hospital is the premier facility in western Jamaica. It’s the only type A facility there.

It’s been plagued by problems with noxious fumes since last October.

Staff have complained of experiencing symptoms such as eye and skin irritation, sore throat and difficulty breathing. The issues have forced the relocation of several of the hospital’s departments.

Plans are in place to replace the ventilation system.

The Health Ministry says Dr. Tufton will establish an office at the Western Regional Health Authority with immediate effect.

This, to manage the crisis unfolding at the hospital. He’s to lead relocation activities and support the hospital’s management.

The office is to be staffed by senior personnel from the Ministry under the direction of the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Winston de la Haye.

The Health Ministry says it’s getting support from the Pan American Health Organisation, PAHO.

It says a PAHO expert on air quality is expected in the island next week.

It says approximately 50-percent of the services that were being offered at the Cornwall Regional Hospital have been relocated elsewhere.

The Ministry says additional space has been provided by the Adventist Church at the Western Jamaica Conference Center.

It’s being renovated to house additional clinics.

The Health Ministry says 200 bed spaces have been identified on two buildings at the hospital to house in patients.

It says necessary renovations to accommodate that move will start soon.

According to the Ministry, that will be the single largest relocation activity.