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  • Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says rehabilitation of the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) is progressing well, with the first phase slated to be completed in August.
  • This includes roof repairs, gutting of the tenth floor and establishment of the hoist for the removal of debris.
  • Phase two, including the gutting of the entire building, will begin in September and should conclude in December.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says rehabilitation of the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) is progressing well, with the first phase slated to be completed in August.

This includes roof repairs, gutting of the tenth floor and establishment of the hoist for the removal of debris.

Phase two, including the gutting of the entire building, will begin in September and should conclude in December.

This will be followed by phase three in 2020, which will see the complete rehabilitation of the facility. This segment will conclude in 2021.

Dr. Tufton was providing an update on the project in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (July 23).

The work being undertaken at the Montego Bay-based facility is to address mold and air quality issues at the facility.

Dr. Tufton noted that an environmental health and safety team was put in place to monitor the work, including daily visits to the site and periodic air quality testing. High efficiency particulate air filters have also been installed to help preserve the air quality while work is ongoing.

He said that at the height of the concerns over air quality at the facility, the Ministry introduced a staff clinic to see team members with complaints. In 2018, the clinic had 296 visits, with 21 such visits between January and March this year.

“We have since engaged Newport Medical Group to provide specialist occupational health and safety services to staff (predominantly nurses) with persistent complaints despite deployment off the building,” Dr. Tufton told the House.

“The CRH team is coordinating this and has completed medical histories for some individuals in order to refer them to the specialist. We anticipate that by the end of next month (August 2019), persons will be referred,” he added.

The Health Minister further informed that a study is being commissioned to answer the health concerns of CRH staff.

He noted that a small working group, led by Dr. Kenneth James, a public health lecturer, consultant and researcher at the University of the West Indies (UWI), has developed the approach to the study.

In addition, an independent, multiskilled oversight committee for the project was established to ensure accountability and provide transparency to the Jamaican public. That committee is chaired by former principal of UWI, and trained surgeon, Professor Archibald McDonald.

Meanwhile, Dr. Tufton said that while work progresses on the main building, patients continue to access a range of clinical and support services that were successfully relocated.

He said that between January and May this year, the hospital had 36,138 visits to the outpatient clinic and 5,286 admissions.

For January to December 2018, there were 87,602 visits to the outpatient clinic and 12,187 admissions, with 73,489 visits to the outpatient clinic and 14,543 admissions in 2017.

Up to May this year, there were 16,798 visits to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department; with 31,570 in 2018 and 37,106 in 2017.

In addition, there were 3,316 surgeries performed (emergency and elective) in 2018, with 3,859 in 2017.

Last year, 22,114 X-rays were done at CRH; 3,147 ultrasounds and 652 computed tomography (CT) scans. In 2017, there were 24,318 X-rays; 3, 023 ultrasounds and 2,823 CT scans.

Other achievements under the project include construction of an A&E Department to include an operating theatre; establishment of two operating theatre suites with recovery room; expansion of the Renal Unit, with replacement dialysis machines now being procured to ensure reliability and increased access; and full laundry services re-established, supported by retrofitted boilers, which have been relocated and upgraded to use natural gas as opposed to bunker seal oil.

The Cornwall Regional Centre for Diagnostic Services was also established on the hospital compound, reducing the outsourcing of emergency cases, and currently offers X-rays, CT and ultrasonography services, Dr. Tufton told the House.

The inpatient bed complement has also increased to 292 (including three intensive care unit beds and 51 surgical beds at Falmouth), while independent water storage off the main building and a partnership with National Water Commission (NWC) for stable water supply have been established.