Tufton wants CRH to start housing patients by year-end
With the deadline for the completion of restoration work on the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) fast approaching, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton says he is hoping to see patients back inside the 400-bed hospital by the end of this calendar year.
Addressing a town hall meeting on CRH’s restoration at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre in Sam Sharpe Square, Montego Bay, on Thursday, Tufton said the hospital’s reoccupation would happen on a phased basis. However, he refrained from pinpointing any exact date for the reoccupation to begin.
“We would like that phased reoccupation of the CRH to begin at the end of this calendar year, or certainly very early in the new year. It will continue through the period of next year as we seek to complete a floor-by-floor scenario to begin to get people back in the main building,” said Tufton.
“We have a road map, we have some timelines, the experts have confirmed what is happening and what will continue to happen, and I do believe with the greatest level of confidence that we are going to see re-engagement of the main building starting, if not the end of this year, then early next year, and that will continue through to a full re-engagement. But do not ask me to give you dates like December 10 or December 15, because to do that would just be to set up myself, and I am not going to do that,” added Tufton.
The Mt Salem-based Type A hospital has been in limbo for the past six years as the Government institutes measures to have the facility rebound from a noxious fumes issue, which first came to light in September 2016 and then rose to national prominence in February 2017.
Since 2017, several timelines have been issued for the CRH’s restoration to be completed, with the latest projected deadline being March 2025. Previous dates, including August 2019, December 2020, and unspecified periods between late 2021 and early 2022, have all been missed.
The current price tag for the restoration work stands at $14.1 billion, more than seven times the $2 billion estimate which was originally proposed in 2018. That initial cost later ballooned to $3.5 billion and then $4 billion in 2019, $5.8 billion in 2022, and $10.5 billion in February this year, before increasing to the current amount on March 7.
Meanwhile, Tufton stressed that the CRH has continued offering services to the residents of western Jamaica despite some of those services being relocated from the main building.
“A lot of times the narrative around the CRH main building rehabilitation misses a very important point, and that point is that CRH as a hospital, providing services to the people of western Jamaica, continues to function and save lives almost every week and every month, including inpatient care,” said Tufton.