Fri | Apr 12, 2024

Start discussions about future CRH structure from now, says project manager

Published:Monday | February 26, 2024 | 12:06 AM
A section of the Cornwall Regional Hospital building in Mt Salem, St James, in October last year.
A section of the Cornwall Regional Hospital building in Mt Salem, St James, in October last year.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Vivian Gordon, the project manager for the ongoing rehabilitation work at the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH), is recommending that any plans for the creation of a new hospital to replace the current structure must start now instead of waiting until after the facility’s expected 30-year life-cycle ends.

Gordon made the recommendation last Thursday while addressing a members’ meeting of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) at the Hospiten medical facility in Montego Bay, St James.

“The discussion needs to start now, and the MBCCI is probably the right set of people to do it … I think it is very important that this group of people begins to interrogate that whole discussion surrounding the lifetime of any of your civic functions within your community, because if you wait until the end of the lifespan of the building, then it will be too late. For a building like this, the decisions about where one sites it, and who it is going to serve, these are all questions that are very important,” said Gordon.

“As it is now, I still see how easy it is for people to get from the centre of Montego Bay to Mt Salem, to this hospital, and therefore I think it serves the needs of the majority in terms of how accessible it is to the most vulnerable,” Gordon added. “The discussion needs to be had, and it is a very big discussion, but the planning for the next CRH does not need to wait for 20 years; it can start now, because you’re going to need to identify the land, and there is so much work that needs to go into it.”

KEY FACTOR

Gordon also identified the evolution of Montego Bay and its population as a key factor in the discussions that need to be held concerning the maintenance of the 10-floor CRH building, which is the only Type A hospital in western Jamaica.

“The movement of communities, the development of Montego Bay, the road networks, and how Montego Bay functions, it is going to lead the discussion as to where or how the hospital is developed and if this hospital will serve the needs of the people in 10, 15, or 20 years,” said Gordon.

The CRH has been undergoing restoration work since February 2017, when noxious fumes from the hospital’s ventilation system forced the evacuation of services from the facility’s first three floors. That incident took place after a similar complaint of noxious fumes five months earlier in September 2016, which had previously resulted in the CRH’s accident and emergency ward being evacuated.

Concerns had previously arisen as far back as 2009 about the air quality at the 10-floor facility, which was first built in 1974 and is currently being rehabilitated at a cost of $21.4 billion.

In the meantime, Dr Delroy Fray, the clinical coordinator for the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), assured last week’s meeting that the CRH will have enough bed spaces to meet the needs of the population, including bed spaces which will be available at the neighbouring Western Children and Adolescent Hospital, once that facility’s construction is complete.

“If you have a real sort of emergency, your best chance is at CRH, and we have everything here. We are going to get 220 beds from the children’s hospital, and we’re going to equip back 430 beds, so that’s 650 beds … and I can sit back and look and I will hope that there will be nobody sitting in the accident and emergency department, waiting for a bed,” said Fray, referencing several past complaints, which have arisen about people spending hours waiting in the CRH’s accident and emergency ward before being given essential medical care.

christopher.thomas@gleanerjm.com