KINGSTON – Three weeks after the Public Health Department of the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation closed the roach-infested canteen at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), scores of patients continue to be severely affected.
Checks by The Gleaner revealed that meals are served to bedridden patients up to three hours late, forcing their relatives and loved ones to provide food for them.
Health authorities have been tight-lipped on the closure of the canteen after the Public Health Department reportedly declared it unfit to be used to prepare food for patients, as it was overrun by pests and rodents, with the filth noticeable.
“With the place overrun by rats and roaches, the Health Department had no choice but to order that it be closed,” an insider told The Gleaner. “It is disgraceful. The canteen is extremely filthy. How people work in that facility is beyond me.”
The Public Health Department has also reportedly closed down another smaller canteen located in the nurses’ hospitality area at the UHWI due to less than acceptable conditions.
It is understood that even after the area was cleaned, the Public Health Department continued to deem it unsuitable for use.
The concessionaires and workers have been forced to resort to a much smaller canteen used to serve patients at the upscale Tony Thwaites Wing, operated by Private Wing Limited.
When contacted, Chief Public Health Inspector Everton Baker said it was not within his purview to speak on the matter.
“I am not the spokesman,” he told The Gleaner. “Speak to the parish manager.”
Repeated attempts to get in touch with Taneisha Lewis, the public relations officer for the South-East Regional Health Authority, failed.
The canteen woes come only weeks after medical practitioners at the UHWI complained about the inability of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to handle the volume of patients who require its services.
“For each patient that the University Hospital admits to the Intensive Care Unit, there are at least three others who are in need of that space,” said consultant anaesthetist Marina Scarlett.
Hyacinth Harding-Goldson, head of the ICU, said because of the shortage of bed spaces, the hospital was forced to attend to people with the most serious medical conditions requiring surgeries and postpone others until space became available.
She said the two ICUs at the UHWI also admitted patients who had had heart attacks, brain surgery, kidney failure, gunshot wounds, and complicated abdominal surgeries.
But with 16 ventilators and 16 beds, Harding-Goldson said the ICU did not have enough space.