Surprise!

Opposition leader Dr Peter Phillips was joined by health minister Dr Chris Tufton while touring the Cornwall Regional Hospital on Tuesday.

BY HORACE HINES
Observer West reporter

Thursday, April 19, 2018

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — A People's National Party (PNP) team, headed by Opposition leader Dr Peter Phillips, that was touring the ailing Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) Tuesday afternoon was unexpectedly joined on their a tour of the facility by Health Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton.

“We did not expect to see the minister of health, although we had informed the hospital before that we were coming. He was there and offered to carry us and show us the hospital, and we appreciate the kind offer that was made to share thoughts and information about the hospital,” Dr Phillips told members of the western Jamaica media fraternity at a press conference at the Wexford Court Hotel, following his tour of the hospital

“...But during the course of the day, I can say that we saw the degree of the catastrophe that is now affecting the people of western Jamaica because of the closure of the Cornwall Regional Hospital, and in particular the main building, which is effectively the hospital.”

Dr Tufton said he welcomed the opportunity to tour the facility along with the team of Opposition members.

“Today (Tuesday) we did a tour of the facility with the leader of the opposition and his entourage, as well as with the mayor (of Montego Bay) and Member of Parliament for Central St James, and basically I welcomed the tour because I felt it was important for us to demonstrate in the first instance, hopefully some unity of purpose as it relates to Cornwall Regional Hospital and the need to rehabilitate the facility. Secondly, it gave the Opposition an opportunity to see for themselves what is happening and to enquire — to ask any questions that they want to ask,” Dr Tufton told reporters following the tour.

But opposition spokesman on health, Dr Dayton Campbell was quick to point out that “for the minister to just come on the tour with us did not mean that there is consensus and there is agreement on the approach”.

For instance, he asserted that even after numerous requests, the Opposition is yet to receive the work plan for the facility from Dr Tufton.

“This is about the fifth or sixth call for a copy of the work plan. We called for it when we visited on the sixth of March; we had a meeting with the minister as late as last week, when we also requested it and to date we are yet to receive a copy of any plan. We have heard that UN officers have changed five project managers; we don't know why they have changed these project managers, we don't know how much they have contracted them for. We are still in the dark, concerning a lot of the information and the decisions being taken,” bemoaned Dr Campbell.

Dr Phillips was in agreement with the party's spokesman on health.

“We certainly don't know.he (Dr Campbell) has requested, on behalf of the party and the country, information as to when we can expect the building to be completely rehabilitated? What is the extent of the work that is being undertaken, what is the cost? Who is doing it? And at what pace? This is something that the country must know.

“The people of western Jamaica want to know when they are going to have an adequate hospital available to them to provide the services. All of this information is not available,” Dr Phillips argued.

Dr Tufton, for his part, insisted that he is handling the hospital crisis in a transparent manner.

“I think today (Tuesday) gave an opportunity to demonstrate that this is what we have on the ground, this is why we are where we are, this is why we got here. There is absolutely no attempts at covering up or hiding anything from anybody. and again having done that it is really up to the Opposition and others who have been here to form their own judgement and opinion, but I am glad that we had the opportunity to expose directly what the situation is,” Dr Tufton said.

Both Phillips and Campbell argued that the problems at the hospital preceded Dr Tufton, but that these problems have been exacerbated under his watch.

CRH is the only Type A health facility outside the Corporate Area, and mainly serves the residents of Trelawny, St James, Hanover and Westmoreland.

The Falmouth Public General Hospital in Trelawny has been expanded to take in additional patients from CRH following reports that staff members at the facility were falling ill.

For some time now, the hospital has been plagued by the emission of toxic fumes which has forced the relocation of a number of services off the property located in Mount Salem, St James.

Most of the patients have been relocated from the CRH as the Government works to complete a $2-billion restoration project at the facility.

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