Mould infestation cramps surgeries at Cornwall Regional
MONTEGO BAY, St James — A mould infestation is said to have dampened health practitioners’ ability to conduct elective surgeries on the grounds of Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) in this western city.
Clinical coordinator for Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA) Dr Delroy Fray, who confirmed the infestation, told the Jamaica Observer the issue was identified in the corridors outside the two operating theatres at the Type A facility. However, Dr Fray was quick to point out that the issue was being addressed and thta hospital officials have since reopened a small operating theatre at the accident and emergency (A&E) unit, for emergency operations.
“Over the past few weeks we were told that there was mould in the operating theatre. And once there is mould it is going to be uncomfortable for our staff to work, and we don’t want to expose them to that. We asked our public health expert to look at it. I am no expert at mould but I went in there and looked at it as an administrator,” Dr Fray explained.
He continued, “We could not identify mould within the operating theatre space but we recognised that there was mould on the outside in the corridor so we had to close that area. However, we must have operating theatre facilities on the compound because that [absence] would compromise our care, so there was an operating theatre in the accident and emergency department…we had put that in there as a back-up. We had to open that up, and that’s where we are working from for the emergency.”
Dr Fray further told the Sunday Observer that the operating theatres are expected to be treated and reopened to serve the public in approximately two weeks. In the meantime, the clinical coordinator said elective surgeries are currently being carried out in the neighbouring parish, at Falmouth Public General Hospital.
However, several surgeries have also had to be postponed, Dr Fray said.
“Some of the elective cases that would have been done at Cornwall, those cases would have to be put on hold while we get this area properly cleaned and operational. So at the Falmouth hospital there are two operating theatres and there are two more which we have refurbished, and those will be handed back to us by Monday,” he said.
Since 2017 the 10-storey, 400-bed capacity hospital has been undergoing $14.1 billion worth of rehabilitation. The rehabilitation project has caused the hospital’s operations to be carried out from the nurses’ and doctors’ quarters, instead of the main building. It was reported that concerns over the facility’s indoor air quality (IAQ), dating back to 2009, played a major role in the temporary closure of the main building. It was during that time that a partnership was forged with the Falmouth hospital to assist in conducting surgeries, as CRH is the only Type A facility in the western region.
The clinical coordinator told the Sunday Observer that CRH’s health professionals will be utilising the operating theatres in Falmouth to carry out their duties.
According to Dr Fray, patients will be transported from the St James-based facility to Falmouth for surgeries, and then back for aftercare. That, he told the Sunday Observer, is a testament to the commitment to serve the patients at CRH.
“The vast majority of our patients will be housed at Cornwall, and we will have to transport them over to Falmouth to have their surgeries done. We are going to do this over the next two weeks until we get that area ready,” said Dr Fray.
“As you can see, although we have mould there we have addressed the issue very speedily and improvised to provide care so that our patients are not compromised — and that’s the mode we are in now,” Dr Fray added.
With high hopes that the affected area will be operational before the end of October, Dr Fray said there will be sufficient rooms at both CRH and Falmouth to put a dent in the surgery backlog that may come about due to the mould infestation.
“Hopefully, by the end of October we will have seven operating theatre facilities available for Cornwall Regional Hospital, including that area at the A&E. I’m looking forward to that and we are working aggressively towards it. So, for the next two weeks we will have surgeries being postponed while these facilities are brought up into operation, but we will get them out of the way as soon as we get the go-ahead,” Dr Fray told the Sunday Observer.
In the meantime, Dr Fray is appealing for the understanding of patients who are being affected by the lack of adequate operating theatres at CRH. Pointing out that he, too, understands the frustration being experienced, Dr Fray said that the administration sympathises with these patients.
“I am a reasonable man so let us look at it from another perspective: A patient comes and he might be waiting six months, or even a year, to have his surgery and we say that, ‘We are very sorry but we have some challenges and we cannot do it until another month’. That is where the problems aries is where the problem arises. I am in sympathy with those patients but they have to understand that we have challenges from time to time,” Dr Fray said .