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Christopher Tufton | Cornwall Regional Hospital transformation will take time

Published:Sunday | March 19, 2023 | 1:00 AM
Christopher Tufton
Christopher Tufton
Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, St. James
Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, St. James
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TRANSFORMATION IS a process that collects its dues in time and effort, and the Government is transforming the Cornwall Regional Hospital.

Therefore, with the necessary rescoping of work at the facility – not cost overruns, as some have said – has come the requirement for not only more time and a healthy dose of patience, but also additional financial resources, which the Government is making available in order to deliver a new and expanded 430-bed, 387,500-square-foot hospital.

I predict that the investment will offer bang for the buck as we deliver not only a newly developed structure, but also one that boasts new equipment as well as new and additional services.

The Cornwall Regional Hospital will be the only public hospital – in combination with the Western Children and Adolescents Hospital – to offer the full range of Type-A services, including pulmonology, neurology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, facio maxillary surgery, gynaecology, oncology, and reproductive endocrinology, which together comprise the new services that are to be added over time.

Already, preliminary discussions have started with the Faculty of Medical Sciences at The University of the West Indies to look at training for the new physician staff cadre. The Ministry of Health & Wellness has also made submissions for the additional physician and training posts required even as more detailed discussions are to be held with each service to develop a comprehensive human resources plan.

The construction work under the third and final phase of the Cornwall Regional Hospital project is to cost an estimated $10.5 billion, with an additional $2.5 billion or so for the supply and installation of furniture, fittings, and equipment, and some $1.1 billion to be spent on professional services.

Cornwall Regional Hospital will not be the same Cornwall Regional that we started with. It will be different, not only in terms of the services on offer, but also the available facilities and general levels of comfort for patients and staff.

INCREMENTAL APPROACH

To get there has required that we take an incremental approach to the facility’s redevelopment – responding to unknowns and to costs associated with global supply chain issues.

Already some $2 billion, including for demolition works and roof repairs, have been invested to make the structure ready to receive the final build-out, which will include medical and general services and installation of equipment.

A further $2 billion was spent on the relocation of services to other spaces on the hospital campus; the build-out of spaces in rented accommodation and on the hospital campus to allow for continued operations on the campus; retrofitting and build-out of spaces at Falmouth, Noel Holmes, and Savanna-la-Mar hospitals to accept services re-routed from Cornwall; lease of properties; and the procurement of equipment to bolster services at back-up hospitals.

I trust that the people can appreciate that in progressing the work, we have had to make decisions on the basis of new or emergent information. It was also necessary to find a place to treat patients while pursuing the rehabilitation of the facility, and, therefore, we had no choice but to tackle the project in the way that we have done it.

I feel sure that the people can have confidence in this transformation, which will become more evident by the end of this year, as we make best efforts to provide a modern, efficient hospital that is well equipped to respond to the health needs of the population. I am a public servant, and my responsibility is to account for what I am doing for the public good. As such, I will continue to make myself available to answer any questions from stakeholders.

It should be noted that the cost variations observed up to now have been due to the incremental approach to the rehabilitation; to responding to unknowns; and to some escalating costs, including costs associated with global supply chain issues. Further, there was, at the outset, no provision for the rehabilitation of the entire structure as it was thought that only specific areas of the building were experiencing problems.

When we started on this journey at Cornwall Regional, it was with the intention to fix a single issue. That changed over time, requiring us to rescope the work as we uncovered one challenge after another. We now have a road map that is to yield its transformation into a new, modern hospital, well-equipped to respond to the health needs of the population.

Dr Christopher Tufton is Jamaica’s minister of health and wellness and member of parliament for St Catherine West Central. Send feedback to cctufton@gmail.com or columns@gleanerjm.com.