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Doctors return but CRH still in crisis

Published:Wednesday | April 4, 2018 | 12:00 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor
The Cornwall Regional Hospital building.

Western Bureau:

While junior doctors were back on the job at the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) in Montego Bay, St James, on Wednesday, the situation at the 400-bed Type A hospital remains in a state of flux as patients are being removed from the main building and persons in need of non-emergency attention are being urged to seek treatment elsewhere.

On Tuesday, 12 interns and six resident doctors from the hospital's Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department withdrew their services amid fresh concerns about the toxic fumes that have been plaguing the hospital and negatively impacting the health of staff and patients.

"When I checked this morning, the doctors were back at work," Dr Delroy Fray, the clinical coordinator at the hospital, told The Gleaner Wednesday evening.




"But, while we do have our full complement of doctors, as I said [Tuesday], we will be moving all the patients from the main building to other locations on the compound and to the Falmouth Hospital."

With their colleagues falling ill in significant numbers due to their exposure to the toxic fumes, which caused nurses to withdraw their services earlier this year, the junior doctors took a decision to stay away from work on Tuesday to highlight their plight. This has sparked a call from some stakeholders for the hospital to be closed until the problem is fixed.

"The hospital is a place where sick people go to get better, not a place where the healthy should go and get sick," a staff member told The Gleaner yesterday.

"The Government has not been decisive enough, and that is why we are now back to where we were when the problem first surfaced."

Earlier this week, the Western Regional Health Authority released a statement urging persons with medical issues to seek healthcare at facilities such as the Savanna-la-Mar General Hospital in Westmoreland, the Noel Holmes Hospital in Hanover, and the Falmouth General Hospital in Trelawny.

On Wednesday, Fray explained that the main building at the hospital, from which more than 100 persons have been removed since the start of the week, was currently housing only a few patients.

"Because of the situation, we are urging patients with non-emergency matters to seek medical attention at other facilities ... . At present, we are only dealing with urgent and emergency cases," said Fray.

"Insofar as the main building is concerned, at this time, we only have surgical inpatients, obstetrics inpatients, and gynaecological inpatients in that building."


Test air around CRH, nearby residents urge health ministry


With recent claims surrounding the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH), including that one of the doctors affected by toxic fumes at the hospital had died and that the conditions at the CRH are deteriorating, some residents in Cornwall Gardens and Pedlars Lane, which are in proximity to the hospital, are now expressing concerns about their health as well.

"I would like the Ministry of Health to carry out an air quality test in the neighbouring communities to see whether or not we are being exposed to any of the contaminants," a resident of Pedlars Lane told The Gleaner Wednesday.

"We can't see the fibreglass particles, so it could be affecting us ... . While it might not hurt us now, we don't know what the long-term effect might be."