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Some parents may have been denied use of bathrooms - Bustamante head

Published:Tuesday | October 11, 2016 | 12:00 AMSherine Williams

After expressing shock at news that some parents have been repeatedly denied access to bathroom facilities at the Bustamante Hospital for Children, head of the institution, Anthony Wood, has admitted that it is possible that some parents may have been misinformed by hospital staff who are unaware of the facilities.

At Bustamante, parents are allowed to stay indefinitely to help nurses and doctors administer care to their children.

But an investigation by The Gleaner has revealed that several parents who have to stay overnight are forced to bathe outdoors because hospital staff constantly deny them access to bathroom facilities.

Initially, Wood said he had never received any formal complaint from parents who have been barred from using bathrooms, and said he was surprised nurses and other hospital staff could tell parents that no bathrooms were available for them.

However, in a follow-up interview, Wood admitted that new staff members who may not have been aware of the bathroom facilities could have possibly misinformed some parents.

"We do have a high staff turnover, and sometimes the information [about adult bathrooms] may not get to them," Wood admitted.




In light of the claims made by the parents, authorities at the hospital have vowed to use the opportunity to conduct a robust review of their communication policy to ensure they adequately inform parents about bathroom facilities.

"We will ensure we get it out there, to talk to the parents and sensitise them. We have customer service personnel who are here 24 hours, and we will ensure they get on their mic system and talk to the parents about the services we have. We will also ensure that staff is aware of it [bathroom facilities] so that the information can get out," Wood asserted.

In the meantime, the Bustamante authorities are seeking to assure Jamaicans that priority is not given to parents from other Caribbean islands who use the hospital.

A hospital source who spoke to The Gleaner alleged that a parent from overseas was allowed access to bedroom and bathroom facilities.

While admitting that an overseas parent recently stayed at the hospital, Wood maintained that Jamaican parents have the same level of access to facilities once they notify hospital authorities.

"Whether Jamaican or overseas, if someone needs to use a bathroom, we make it available. But if someone is coming from overseas, we keep them close to the patient because the care might be extended," Wood said.

However, hospital authorities admit that priority is given to parents who reside outside of Kingston and St Andrew because of limited bathroom and bedroom facilities.