Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says that the building delays at the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) in St. James, should serve as a teachable moment, as the government embarks on the construction and rehabilitation of other hospitals across the island.
“I have been very frank to say that there needs to be a rethink, based on an analysis of what has happened to date. Frankly speaking, Cornwall needs to be a teaching moment for all of us, because there are plans to build [and] renovate several hospitals and we have to take the lessons learned here at this facility to inform us on the way forward,” Dr. Tufton said.
“In terms of other renovations that are coming up and new hospitals that are to be built, [we must have] a maintenance schedule, so we never ever get to the point where a hospital collapses, because that is what has happened as it relates to this building,” he added.
The Minister was speaking during a press briefing which preceded a tour of CRH on Friday (January 15).
Dr. Tufton further noted that renovating an old building not only requires technical expertise, but also requires experience “and we do not have hospital construction experience in this country”.
“My intention is in the next week or so, to go to Cabinet with a proposal that will recognize the achievements, because it has not been a total lost, [as well as] the short comings, and make a recommendation as to how we can improve the process,” he stated.
“I am not going to preempt the Cabinet’s position, so I am not going to go into any details until there is a position there, but it is going to include a recommendation for some changes,” he added.
He further stated that “the thought process is really how do we ensure that there is some consistency of quality standards, of how we assess the work to be done, and how we coordinate that work to ensure that it is done within time [and ] within budget or adequately.”
Meanwhile, the Minister said the Ministry continues to listen to and encourage the staff at the facility and to ensure that “our partners remain committed and motivated to work with us, our key partner of course, being the [West Jamaica Conference – Seventh Day Adventist organization] next door.”
Dr. Tufton was accompanied on the tour of the hospital by a team from the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA) headed by Regional Director, Errol Greene. As part of the day’s activities, the Minister also met with staff of the hospital.