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WRHA needs 17 more ambulances to satisfy requirements, says Wallace

Published:Tuesday | January 10, 2023 | 12:11 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer


THE WESTERN Regional Health Authority (WRHA) has been operating with an inadequate fleet to respond to medical emergencies.

Lennox Wallace, acting chief executive officer at the 50-year-old Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH), says the facility would need 15 more ambulances to satisfy its emergency response capabilities.

In addition, Wallace, whose substantial job is that of managing the St James Health Services, argued that the WRHA could adequately manage emergency responses with a fleet of approximately 39 ambulances.

“I believe that as a Type A hospital (CRH), about 15 [ambulances] would have been adequate,” Wallace said in a Gleaner interview.

In relation to the region’s three other government-run hospitals, Wallace noted: “I believe that eight per hospital would have be the ideal situation.”

Given his estimate, the region’s emergency response system, which received a multimillion-dollar boost at the start of the calendar year, would now need 17 ambulances to serve its four hospitals, including the Caribbean’s sole Type A, CRH, and the 84 health centres across the parishes of St James, Trelawny, Westmoreland and Hanover.

On Friday, four new ambulances valued at $48 million were added to WRHA’s fleet, increasing its numbers to 22. The Gleaner understands that apart from those, several others are sitting in the garage, unsuitable for operation.

“We want to ensure that we maintain them as best as possible, and to ensure that our fleet remains strong and up to date to assist the patients should the need arise,” Wallace said of the new ambulances.

There is also a projection for eight ambulances that will be required for a fifth regional hospital – a children and adolescent hospital now under construction. However, that number has not been added to the deficit of the WRHA’s fleet, as the facility is incomplete.