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Medical Officer of Health Dr Nadine Williams. (Photo: Observer file)
MANDEVILLE, Manchester – Health services at facilities in three south-central parishes were badly hit yesterday, with nearly half of scheduled doctors calling in sick, reducing operations to emergencies only.
The public health sector has been plagued by human resource issues, including a number of doctors without signed contracts, delays in the payment of gratuities and some salaries.
Regional Director of the Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA) – Clarendon, Manchester and St Elizabeth – Michael Bent told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that the work stoppage resulted in only 144 doctors reporting for work.
“We expected 302 people to arrive [as] expected, but 158 of them called in sick,” he said.
“Some [doctors] didn’t show up at health centers, but the biggest impact would be hospitals, so basically all facilities are [in] emergency mode,” he added.
At Mandeville Regional Hospital, 88 of the 124 doctors scheduled for the facility have called in sick, while at May Pen Hospital, 21 of 79 doctors have joined the work stoppage.
Only four of the 16 scheduled doctors showed up for work at Percy Junor Hospital and at Black River Hospital, only 10 of the 21 scheduled doctors showed up.
“The facilities were occupied by consultants and elderly people [doctors]so we had to reschedule some of the outpatient clinics,” Bent said.
“We tried to manage the situation as well as possible. The public should understand that there will be delays in most cases [for] those who need to be hospitalized,” he added.
Mandeville Regional Hospital’s chief medical officer, Dr Everton McIntosh, said the facility’s consultants were few.
“We can’t have a lot of contingencies, because if the doctors aren’t at work, it just comes down to the consultants who are few. It is impossible to maintain the same level of service, so that means we just have to go into emergency mode,” he said.
He hoped that the ongoing contract dispute would soon be resolved.
“Strictly emergencies… We cannot run any clinics, only emergency surgeries and hope this will be resolved in a short period of time,” he said.
Meanwhile, Manchester Medical Officer Dr Nadine Williams said all 19 health facilities in the parish were not open yesterday.
“There are [an] impact certainly in the parish, but we were still able to carry out some services…. Today [yesterday] was not such a bad day for us because we only had three health centers that would have offered curative services,” she said.
She said services at Mandeville, Pratville and Robin’s Hall health centers had been reduced, with some patients being cared for and others being postponed.
“We’re trying to see how we can manage with the available staff,” she said.
Michael Bent, SRHA Regional Director. (Photo: Observer File)
The Mandeville regional hospital, where 88 of the 124 doctors scheduled for the establishment declared themselves sick yesterday.
Mandeville Regional Hospital SMO Dr Everton McIntosh. (Photo: Gregory Bennett)