Health minister eagerly awaits completion of field hospital in Western JamaicaSaturday, February 13, 2021
TRELAWNY, Jamaica— With COVID-19 wards in public health care facilities across Western Jamaica now bursting at their seams, Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton is eagerly awaiting next week's expected completion of the field hospital in Falmouth which will provide 36 additional beds.
"I think it (field hospital) will be a very important addition to the COVID ward capacity that we need in the region. I looked at the numbers this (yesterday) morning on my way here, and as attested by the regional director, Errol Greene, we are under pressure in the region. There is 90 per cent (occupancy) or a little over 90 per cent of our COVID wards. It's the highest it has been since we have had to deal with COVID in the region," Dr Tufton cited.
"It is certainly higher than the national average of 85 per cent. So Western Jamaica is under pressure. And at this rate, if we continue to see increases in numbers of COVID cases, you are likely to see increases of hospitalisation because the two are related and then from there you are likely to see greater burden on the public health system," he added.
The health minister was speaking to reporters in Falmouth at the site of the field hospital where construction is over 90 per cent completed.
To compound the matter, he also highlighted that the ministry "continues to have challenges with personnel".
"Under normal circumstances we have shortages particularly as it relates to our nurse complement and our specialist nurses in particular, who are highly demanded not just in Jamaica, but globally...heavily recruited; so there is never enough. Under these circumstances, with the expanded capacity it is a challenge. We have to try and ensure we make do with what we have. Some have to double up in terms of shifts, we will bring additional personnel on board and that is being pursued now," the health minister said.
"So it is a combination of the nursing staff and the doctors, meaning the personnel; equipment and the building; and the idea is to coordinate and pull all of that together over the next week to add this additional 36 beds here in Western Jamaica."
He was, however, quick to point out that regardless of the addition of infrastructure and personnel, if people continue to flaunt COVID-19 protocols, there will still not be enough to facilitate the number of people who will be infected.
"There is no antidote or solution to the COVID response for irresponsible behaviour. And therefore no matter how much capacity we add or how many nurses, doctors, or beds we can provide, we will never keep up to the pace if we have a runaway situation with infection rates. And so while we can say that the Government... the ministry...we have been proactive in securing additional space, we have to accompany that message with the need for persons to follow the protocols," the health minister stated.
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