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NAJ paints a scary picture of CRH’s situation

Published:Thursday | April 5, 2018 | 12:00 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor


The emission of noxious fumes plaguing the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) in Montego Bay, St James, could be far more serious than initially believed as more than 100 nurses have been adversely affected, according to Carmen Johnson, president of the Nurses' Association of Jamaica (NAJ).

In a media interview yesterday, Johnson stated that since the noxious fumes issue came to the fore last year, in excess of 160 nurses have reported to the hospital's staff clinic with complaints ranging from rashes to headaches to weakness in the joints, among other things.

"We have some of the young nurses who are diagnosed with chronic hypertension who were never hypertensive, chronic heart conditions, who never had any issues," said Johnson. "Some who were browner in skin are now darker. Some are suffering from loss of memory, and some people are too weak to function."


Relatives affected

Johnson also claimed that the relatives of some of the affected nurses have also suffered ill-effects as a result of interacting with them.

"The respiratory conditions are out of whack. Persons are just spitting up blood. When they cough, it never seems to go away, and when they go home, they recognise that some family members are displaying the same symptoms they are having," reported Johnson.

Like the nurses and doctors who recently withdrew their services for a day to highlight the unsafe conditions under which they are working at Cornwall Regional, Johnson said that patients are also showing ill-effects as a result of their exposure to the toxic fumes.

The NAJ's revelation comes at a time when there are charges and counter-charges between health minister Dr Christopher Tufton and his opposition counterpart, Dr Dayton Campbell, with regard to Campbell's claim that an initial recommendation from the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) was that the hospital be closed until the problem was rectified, as well as a report that the former chief medical officer, Dr Winston De La Haye, recommended that the facility be evacuated. Such actions were said to be in the best interest of the patients and staff.

Tufton has however stated that PAHO in fact said the hospital should not be closed and indicated that, after consideration, the Government opted not to implement the De La Haye's recommendation as it was not feasible.