Health Ministry Takes Action to Address Problem at Cornwall Regional Hospital

Photo: Marlon Tingling Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton (centre), addresses a press conference following a tour of the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay on February 16. Others (from left) are: Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Sancia Bennett Templer, and Chief Executive Officer at the hospital, Anthony Smikle.

Story Highlights

  • Health Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says a three-pronged approach is being taken by the Ministry and the administration at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay to rectify toxic fumes emanating from an old central air conditioning system in sections of the institution.
  • “We have assembled a separate team of the technical people – the engineers, the environmental specialists and the contractors. The team is mapping the clean-up and rehabilitation of the facility.They are assessing the extent of the contamination and I am expecting a report next week on the scheduling on how they will remove the contaminated part of the system and the time period for replacement,” the Minister said.

Health Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says a three-pronged approach is being taken by the Ministry and the administration at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay to rectify toxic fumes emanating from an old central air conditioning system in sections of the institution.

Speaking at a news conference following a tour of sections of the facility yesterday (February 16), Dr. Tufton said relocating some departments; hard work by a technical team to solve the problem; and a strong communication programme will be used as efforts are ramped up to address the challenges being faced by both patients and employees.

“We have assembled a separate team of the technical people – the engineers, the environmental specialists and the contractors. The team is mapping the clean-up and rehabilitation of the facility.They are assessing the extent of the contamination and I am expecting a report next week on the scheduling on how they will remove the contaminated part of the system and the time period for replacement,” the Minister said.

“We anticipate that this will take months…and it will cost a fair amount of resources,” he added.

Dr. Tufton said he will be updating the Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet within the next few days, while ensuring that a budget for the work is prepared.

The Minister pointed out that some departments have already been relocated from the affected floors. The off property locations for the departments are the Barnett Clinic, the West Jamaica Conference Centre and the Holy Trinity Church.

Dr. Tufton said as efforts continue to address the situation, a series of consultations with technical persons have been done to include representatives from the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), private companies and members of staff.

“There is consensus around the fact that the problem is a much more complex problem than we had originally thought. The system in question is not only old, but is contaminated in part by the lining that was used when it was put in place,” the Minister said.

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