Health Ministry Committed to Resolving Situation at Cornwall Regional

Photo: JIS Photographer Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton. (FILE)

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says the Ministry is committed to resolving problems associated with noxious fumes emanating from the ventilation system at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay.
  • Dr. Tuton said the Ministry officials are yet to determine the chemicals associated with the noxious fumes. A team from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has been brought in to provide assistance.
  • Dr. Tutfon assured that the Ministry is not taking the situation lightly. “We appreciate the significance of the institution, and we appreciate those who work and those who use the institution,” he said.

Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says the Ministry is committed to resolving problems associated with noxious fumes emanating from the ventilation system at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay.

“We have put in place an arrangement to do environmental testing in different sections of the facility,” he said.

“We will also provide medical care to those who have been impacted as well as to create a monetary mechanism… so that we can (address) medium to longer-term impact,” he added.
Dr. Tufton was addressing a town hall meeting at the Montego Bay Civic Centre on February 23, to address concerns over the safety of the 43-year-old health facility.

For several months, staff have been complaining that they are being affected by noxious fumes. The situation worsened last September while the ventilation system was being cleaned.

Dr. Tuton said the Ministry officials are yet to determine the chemicals associated with the noxious fumes. A team from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has been brought in to provide assistance.

The Jamaica Workers Union (JWU), as well as the Nurses Association of Jamaica, have called for a shutdown of the hospital so that comprehensive action can be taken to address the situation.

Dr. Tufton said he would not hesitate to close the facility if it is deemed unfit for human interaction.

He noted that while such a move would “lead to a new set of consequences that we will have to deal with”, the safety of patients and staff must take precedence over any other issue.

“Frankly speaking, we are not going to sanction people putting themselves at a level of risk that is going to lead to long-term consequences. That is going to be how we operate and how we treat and react to the information we get from the team of experts,” Dr. Tufton pointed out.

As it relates to patients, he said that “we have taken the position that if patients don’t have to be there, then they should be sent home. I have said to the professionals; keep the situation fluid so if things have to move around, then we move it around”.

Dr. Tutfon assured that the Ministry is not taking the situation lightly. “We appreciate the significance of the institution, and we appreciate those who work and those who use the institution,” he said.

“We have to subscribe to a process that determines the degree of risk that we are taking when we interface with the institution,” he pointed out.

“That is the most logical approach to take. That is why we have engaged the experts to help guide the process. All the concerns that have been raised, all the positions that we have taken… have been done on the advice of the experts,” he pointed out.

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