Fri | Jun 5, 2020

CRH overhaul scaled back

Published:Wednesday | April 1, 2020 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Despite the all-round dislocation caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA) says that the multibillion-dollar restoration work at Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) will continue, despite restrictions on movement caused by the novel coronavirus.

Work has been scaled back in observance of social-distancing government regulations that people stay three feet apart, says Errol Greene, regional director of the WRHA.

“We can’t work at the pace we would like, but work is still going on, and while the timeline for completion may be affected, persons were working on the building as of Friday,” he told The Gleaner.

“The main contractor that is working there now is working on demolition of a number of floors.”

Plans are in place for the installation of 10 isolation areas at the Mt Salem-based Type A facility to house persons who may test positive for COVID-19. So far, 38 infections have been recorded locally. Two COVID-19 patients have died.

The CRH, which was built in 1974, has been undergoing restoration work after noxious fumes from the facility’s ventilation system forced the relocation of several services from the hospital’s main building in January 2017. In February that year, a team from the Pan American Health Organization found that fibreglass particles in the hospital’s ventilation system were the cause of the problem.

The noxious fumes had previously come to national attention in September 2016 after medical personnel vacated the CRH’s Accident and Emergency Department because of an uncomfortable stench in that area.

Last December, Professor Archibald McDonald, chairman of the independent oversight committee monitoring the CRH overhaul, projected a December 2020 date for the work to be completed, and that it would cost up to J$4 billion.

However, with the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in stricter guidelines governing personal interaction, it is not clear at this time whether this deadline will be met.