No crisis

FOLLOWING claims by Opposition spokesperson on health Dr Morais about an out-of-service operating theatre and a medical oxygen emergency at Kingston Public Hospital, health officials are maintaining that there is “no crisis situation” but that a major overhaul is in the works for the over-200-year-old institution.

Dr Guy, in a statement released on Monday, said he had “received disturbing information that one of the operating theatres at the KPH ceased operation three days ago because of a massive water leak from the ceiling. The Opposition spokesperson also said that his information was that the entity had reportedly run out of medical oxygen within the last three days, forcing it to postpone scheduled surgeries and implement other mitigating actions. He said he was also deeply concerned about the lack of oxygen because it revealed that the Administration is no longer concerned about oxygen supplies as Jamaica is out of the heightened novel coronavirus pandemic.

But Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, responding to queries by the Jamaica Observer, said the situation with the operating theatre “is being resolved”, while the oxygen issue had been remedied.

“We do expect from time to time that we will have these types of incidents at KPH, and whenever it occurs we send a team in to resolve them. The reason for this is that KPH is a very old institution, and the plant has depreciated over many years to the point where it really needs a major overhaul — and we are in fact looking at that now,” the health minister told the Observer.

“We have done an assessment, using our multilateral partners, to look at the plant to see what are the major structural changes that need to take place because there is a fear that KPH could go the same way as Cornwall Regional because of limited maintenance over many years and the fact that the plant is a very old plant,” Dr Tufton explained.

Said Tufton, “I empathise with some of the concerns raised by Dr Guy and others but he also should appreciate that we are dealing with a very old facility, and from time to time we have pipes breaking in the walls and other such things happening. Whenever they happen we try to resolve them quickly but the ultimate solution is going to be a major overhaul, which is in train but will happen over a few years.”

According to the health minister the infrastructure situation with KPH, which is the island’s main trauma centre, is replicated across the other public health facilities in the island, resulting in the push by the Administration to upgrade those entities.

“This is why this Government has apportioned one of the largest expenditures on capital infrastructure in public health since Independence, over US$200 million, that’s why we have Spanish Town, May Pen, St Ann’s Bay to follow, the major work at Cornwall, the new children and adolescent hospital, and a number of health centres,” the health minister remarked.

In the meantime Dr Tufton said while a figure has not yet been placed on the overhaul for the KPH it will “run into the tens of millions of United States dollars”.

He in the meantime described as “unfortunate” Dr Guy’s assertion that he has lost focus of his primary responsibility to ensure proper, cost-effective health services for all citizens and is hell-bent on pursuing the CODE CARE programme model, which promotes the transfer of surgeries to private facilities.

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