St. James, Jamaica (McN)
Pressure is mounting on the management of Cornwall Regional Hospital to eliminate the noxious fumes which have forced the relocation of offices and outpatients from the first to third floor of the facility.
The Jamaica Workers Union (JWU), which represents several categories of employees at Cornwall Regional, including patient care assistants, psychiatric aides and security personnel, has declared that the extent of the problem is being under-reported.
The situation is cause for concern, according to Clifton Brown, President of the JWU.
The union has been informed by workers at the hospital that other floors are being affected by the fumes, Mr. Brown told RJR News.
“The psychiatric aides on the 10th floor are being severely affected, the patient care assistants on the other floors which are being affected, have fallen ill… so it’s quite a severe situation… and it demands quick and urgent attention,” he said.
Expressing dissatisfaction with the response to the crisis so far, Mr. Brown said the fumes seem to be affecting “far more areas than can actually be relocated.”
Simply relocating operations from a number of floors will not suffice, he asserted, declaring that there are some aspects of the hospital’s services that are not easily relocated.
The Jamaica Medical Doctors’ Association also weighed in on the issue on Wednesday, reminding its members that they should not work in hazardous zones.
The management of the hospital is awaiting a report from a team which is conducting a detailed investigation into the cause of the fumes.
Anthony Smikle, CEO of the hospital, told RJR News that a preliminary report is expected this month, arising from which he has promised quick action.
“A team of engineers has been put together – environmental, civil, mechanical – to look at the ventilation system and make recommendations as to how we will deal with the problem,” he said.
The ventilation system is a “complex” one that has been in place from the time the hospital was built, he said.
Arising from the relocation of outpatients at Cornwall Regional, services at the Drug Serv Mount Salem Health Centre being significantly scaled down.
This is to accommodate Accident and Emergency services for the Cornwall Regional Hospital.
The National Health Fund says only patients with prescriptions for chemotherapy and same day emergency prescriptions are being facilitated.
Other outpatients may fill their prescriptions at public sector pharmacies and health centres.
The National Health Fund says a further update on pharmacy services will be provided this afternoon.