Significant Improvements at KPH

Photo: Melroy Sterling Senior Medical Officer (SMO) at the Kingston Public Hospital, Dr. Natalie Whylie.

Story Highlights

  • The Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) continues to provide critical health care services for thousands of Jamaicans annually, being the largest regional general health care facility in the English speaking Caribbean.
  • Senior Medical Officer (SMO) of the institution, Dr. Natalie Whylie, tells JIS News of improvements that have resulted in the reduction of the lengthy waiting time for surgical procedures.
  • She explains that a lack of recovery room space was one of the major factors that contributed to the delay that the institution formerly experienced.

The Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) continues to provide critical health care services for thousands of Jamaicans annually, being the largest regional general health care facility in the English speaking Caribbean.

Senior Medical Officer (SMO) of the institution, Dr. Natalie Whylie, tells JIS News of improvements that have resulted in the reduction of  the lengthy waiting time for surgical procedures.

She explains that a lack of recovery room space was one of the major factors that contributed to the delay that the institution formerly experienced.

“Patients would come and sometimes their surgeries would be cancelled, which was very frustrating for them, but that has improved significantly with the expansion of the recovery room by four beds,” she notes.

“Another significant improvement that the Government has (implemented) in the last six months has been the elevators, which had been a sore point. There is one refurbished elevator, which was recently commissioned, and there are two brand new elevators, through a partnership with the National Health Fund. One is almost ready and a second one will be ready within six weeks. That has significantly improved our ability to deliver surgical care,” she explains.

For years, the institution has had challenges as it relates to linen, which is used heavily in patient care.

“When you go to do a surgical procedure, there is surgical linen that must be utilized. The South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) has responded to that challenge through the procurement of fabric and THE sewing of linen,” says the SMO.

Dr. Whylie points out that the hospital has also made great strides in the care of cancer patients and has put measures in place to ensure that patients who come in for chemotherapy are not competing for bed space and nursing care with other patients who are admitted.

According to the SMO, one of the major challenges faced by patients getting cancer treatment at the KPH was the delay.

“Now there are minimal delays in terms of surgical care for cancer patients. When you come with a presumed diagnosis of cancer, you are seen within two weeks and once your diagnosis is confirmed, you are operated on by the next surgical list. It is a work in progress, but the Government, through SERHA, has responded in a good way to the challenges that we’ve faced, especially within the last nine months,” she informs.

“These improvements will impact on the care of not only KPH patients, but patients from all over the island. We have surgical services here that are not available anywhere else in the island and in terms of the surgical expertise that we have, we are at the top of our game, certainly within the public health system, so patients come from Negril point to Morant point,” she notes.

Dr. Whylie adds that although there are some surgical services available at Cornwall Regional Hospital, in Montego Bay, some of the support services needed to deliver cancer care are only available at KPH, not only for Jamaica but for the English speaking Caribbean.

The 22-year KPH veteran and SMO since June 2014 further explains that in the past the Chemotherapy Unit patients would be seen in the clinic and they would receive a date for chemotherapy, which would be delivered on the general ward. “That has changed,” she tells JIS News.

“We now have an ambulatory care chemotherapy unit that is run by specialist nurses trained in the management of cancer patients. We have had external help from corporate Jamaica contributing towards the equipment and it’s an area where patients can come and receive the care that they need in a very dignified way. This has reduced the waiting time for chemotherapy and allowed for improvement in the quality of care, because they are being cared for by professionals who are dedicated solely towards their care,” Dr. Whylie notes.

The feedback from patients has been very good. They have indicated that the room is comfortable, the chairs are comfortable and they are happy that the nurses can attend to them with a certain amount of privacy.

She points out that  the nurses are also trained to deliver  psychological support and patient education and that SERHA has also employed specialist doctors in that area to improve the overall care.

“We are looking at staff welfare as well. We have an upcoming Labour Day project that involves beautification of the hospital, out of a recognition that aesthetics is important. People feel better when they work in an environment that looks good. This year we are focusing on landscaping two garden areas, to improve the aesthetics of the institution, improve staff morale and provide a therapeutic space for patients,” Dr. Whylie says.

The hospital’s administration is conducting audits to assess health care and has formed several committees to review matters such as use of drugs, use of antibiotics as well as quality assurance and customer service.

“Our mandate at the KPH is to deliver the highest standard of health care to the Jamaican people and to look at how we utilize resources, so we are using the audits to size up our performance in terms of efficiently delivering quality health care,” Dr. Whylie informs.

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