Health Ministry to start inspecting private hospitals and nursing home
The Ministry of Health and Wellness is to start the inspection of private hospitals and nursing homes in light of a recent media report that many such facilities locally are operating without being registered.
The spotlight has been spun on private hospitals in light of the recent death of 23-year-old Jodian Fearon at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) after giving birth hours before at the Spanish Town Hospital. She had earlier encountered difficulties at the privately-managed Andrew Memorial Hospital.
According to the media reports, Andrews Memorial Hospital is one of several private hospitals across the country that have not been inspected or were inspected but the process of registration was not completed.
Speaking at the COVID-19 press conference at Jamaica House on Monday evening, Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton said the ministry has decided that inspection of the private hospitals and nursing homes is needed, and will be started immediately.
He said the Standard and Regulations Division of the ministry is working to expand and increase the inspections in an effort to provide appropriate guidance to both the private hospitals and the nursing homes.
According to Tufton, a team from the Registrar of Health Facilities and Monitoring is to work with other Government agencies and bodies to ensure that the inspections are done properly.
These will include the Standards Research and Development Branch; Pharmaceutical and Regulatory Affairs Branch; Micro Biology, Health Facilities and Maintenance Unit; public health inspectors; and specialist healthcare professionals.
“We have not expanded our capacity of these groups of specialists and they are very much engaged in the COVID response. So it is a challenge, but I think there is a gap as it relates to the audit and inspections that we have discussed.
“This is particularly as it relates to our nursing homes, where we have an older population, persons who have underlying conditions for the most part, and it represents part of our vulnerable community within the society that we need to manage carefully,” Tufton said.
According to him, the number of registered nursing homes is more than the unregistered ones. He said many of the latter group have been inspected, but they do not meet the requirements for registration, and that the ministry’s team has been working with them to solve the issues.
Tufton said in the last fiscal year, there were 164 monitoring inspections and 118 registration inspections.
“The work continues. It’s been a long, ongoing challenge, but we continue to ensure that we provide the appropriate information and support and in the context of COVID-19 and the public health risk that COVID poses to the population and in particular the vulnerable population as persons in nursing homes, we will make an extra effort to establish some basic protocols, whether they are officially registered or unofficially operating,” said the minister.