KPH pleased to be Sigma Run beneficiary
From left: president and CEO of Sagicor Group Chris Zacca; Dany Williams, chairman of Sagicor Foundation ; Dr Natalie Whylie, acting CEO at Kingston Public Hospital; and Dr Lindberg Simpson, head of surgery department at KPH enjoy a light moment following the launch of Sigma Run 2022. (Photo: Karl McLarty)

IT is no secret that the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) is faced with many challenges.

That is why Natalie Whylie, the hospital's acting chief executive officer, is pleased that organisers of the Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run decided to have the 245-year-old hospital as its sole beneficiary for this year's 24th staging.

The run will be done in three phases with the virtual aspect scheduled for March 1-31 and the Team Bubble and Invitational Runs scheduled for March 13 and 20, respectively.

This year's target is $50 million with proceeds to be used to procure equipment for the hospital's surgery department, a computerised tomography (CT) scan machine, as well as equipment that treat cancer patients.

Sagicor will also undertake a multi-year project of renovating the bathroom facilities at the 245-year-old hospital.

“The hospital has been faced with significant challenges, we have again buildings, the last time we had any major construction was about 30 years ago and at that time the hospital was treating about a third of the patient we are now seeing every day,” Whylie said during the event's launch at Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Wednesday.

“The hospital is in need of great help, not just for the equipment and so I really want to thank Sagicor for stepping up and responding to a great need. Sagicor is leading from the front and this help will allow us to provide more humane and comfortable facilities that our patients and staff deserve,” she added.

Established on December 14, 1776, the KPH remains the largest public health institution in Jamaica and, by extension, in the English-speaking Caribbean, caring for hundreds of patients on a daily basis.

However, health-care workers at the hospital have, in the past and even in recent times, been scrutinised for their handling of patients.

Whylie gave the assurance that they are doubling efforts to provide the best service possible despite the many challenges, particularly in a pandemic which has left them “stretched and tired” at times.

“With COVID, the team at the Kingston Public Hospital has been even more challenged and we ourselves as health-care workers have contracted COVID-19 as well and unfortunately some have died. So we are facing the effects,” she said.

“Many times we respond to patients or clients in a manner that may seem as though we are not empathetic and in fact, there are instances when we have caused more emotional trauma while the patients and families that we are caring for are going through their own traumatic experience,” Whylie admitted.

“But it's a work in progress, the minister (of health and wellness) has compassionate care as one of his strategic focuses and certainly at the Kingston Public Hospital, we have doubled our efforts to provide the highest quality of care by our trained staff in a more compassionate and empathetic manner,” she noted.

While declaring that negative reaction by health-care workers are in no way acceptable, Whylie believes it is sometimes spurred by the many challenges of the work environment.

“It is not easy. The hours are long and the work is hard, so sometimes we come across tough and often it's a coping mechanism because we have to protect our own emotions and our own mental health, but we feel it when patients are ill. We are human beings and as I said sometimes there is a challenge but we are redoubling our efforts to make sure that we care for the persons in a compassionate manner,” Whylie stated.

Though still operating in emergency mode, she explained that there are certain services to include surgical and cancer care that cannot be curtailed.

“We are one of the main facilities for the provision of care to cancer patients we are one of two public facilities that provide chemotherapy. I am also excited about a new CT, we have an ageing unit and another unit will allow us to reduce waiting time and improve efficiency in patient services.

“So again, thank you Sagicor and sponsors for really stepping up,” Whylie beamed.

Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run has over the years raised approximately $500 million for numerous beneficiaries since its inception in 1999.

Last year, the event hauled in $49 million for the Annotto Bay and Port Antonio Hospitals to purchase medical equipment.

BY SHERDON COWAN Observer staff reporter

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