Hope in CRH oversight committee

Thursday, May 17, 2018

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On the face if it, the naming of an oversight committee for the rehabilitation of Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) is a good decision.

We are also encouraged by the fact the members of the committee are individuals who, we believe, will, as the health ministry has said, ensure accountability and provide transparency in their review of information on the progress of implementation of key project areas for the hospital.

Those committee members are Professor Archibald McDonald, principal of The University of The West Indies (UWI), Mona, who heads the group; Professor Ishenkumba Kahwa, chemist and deputy principal of The UWI; Mr Errol Alberga, architect and senior partner at Alberga Graham Jamaica, who has done work on Kingston Public Hospital; Mr Earl Richards, civil engineer, past president of the Jamaica Institution of Engineers and retired president of the Airports Authority of Jamaica; and Ms Claudette Bryan, president of the St James Lay Magistrates' Association.

According to the Ministry of Health, the committee is also mandated to review reports on the delivery of clinical services at CRH covering the on-site and off-site locations to which services have been relocated; provide recommendations to the minister of health on matters related to the execution of the rehabilitation project and advise on any concerns or developments; as well as monitor the compliance and progress in relation to implementation of the key project areas to ensure that any required strategic changes are undertaken in a timely manner so that the project achieves its goals.

In addition, the committee has been tasked with providing direction and assistance in resolving issues that may delay the timely execution of the project and providing monthly updates on the project and the delivery of hospital services to the public.

The project, as Professor McDonald pointed out, is very large and, we might add, extremely important as based on information from the health ministry, returning the hospital to good working order is far more cost-effective than building a new facility, as some people are suggesting.

Anyone who doubts that just needs to consider the ministry has projected that it would cost between US$20 million and US$25 million to rehabilitate the 450-bed hospital, compared to US$100 million to build an entirely new structure.

And, if anyone questions the health ministry's calculation, all they would need to divest them of that doubt is the fact that the 220-bed children's hospital that the Chinese Government is building for Jamaica in the western end of the island will cost US$43 million, and the majority of that is for just the construction phase alone.

Our hope is that this committee's work, added to what has already been done by the health ministry, will result in the kinds of improvement that will make Cornwall Regional Hospital safe for patients and staff.

That should be the ultimate goal of all Jamaicans.

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