Statement Regarding the Lack of Water at the Riversdale Health Centre - Jamaica



The South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) wishes to refute vehemently allegations in an article printed in the Jamaica Observer newspaper on Tuesday, January 21, 2013 titled “Disgrace”.

Board Chairman Mr. Lyttleton Shirley and the Regional Director, Mr. Donald Farquharson met with the management of the Riversdale Health Centre and the St. Catherine Health Services, the body responsible for operating the health centre, to ascertain the whether or not the allegations reflected the situation at the health centre.

The following allegations printed in the Observer were refuted by the management of the health centre.

1. Officials at the health centre were locked in an emergency meeting as they tried to come to a decision as to whether to temporarily close the facility until the problem is resolved.

No such meeting was held by the management of the health centre and there were never any discussions on the matter at any time. Only the Ministry of Health has the authority to sanction the closure of any health centre. In fact, the situation did not warrant the concern of management as the water supply to the health centre was appropriately managed with the support of the National Water Commission, which provided water to the health centre in a prompt and efficient manner.

2. Staff at the Riversdale Health Centre has been reduced to using a single bucket of water for their daily operations.
The Region deems this statement as unfortunate and inaccurate and it is seen as an affront to our staff who has been maintaining best standard practice at the health centre, which they have done in an appropriate manner.

The management openly stated that the bucket that was pictured in the article was a cleaning bucket and did not indicate in any form or shape the level or storage of water supply at the facility. The facility is fully equipped with two large water tanks, which are capable of meeting the demand for water at the health facility. In addition to the tanks serving the facility, the residents have benefited from water at the health centre on many occasions. This decision was made by the management to provide limited assistance to the residents to mitigate against public health risks associated with water shortage.

3. Medical personnel had to forgo washing their hands many times when they treat patients to save the one bucket of water for even dire emergencies.

This was rubbished by the management of the health centre as being absurd and ridiculous as such a facility cannot operate on a bucket of water. Such a practice would have serious public health implications and would tarnish the reputation of the health centre, which the staff has so carefully and professionally maintained in their quest to offer best practice health care to the residents of Riversdale.

The Chairman wishes to state that he continues to support the media in the work they do to bring attention to all issues that will promote and mitigate against all hospitals and health centres failing to offer professional service and provide proper health care services. He said he strongly believes that such efforts to identify issues must be done professionally and accurately so that erroneous statements do not allow the public to lose confidence in the public health system, which the Ministry of Health and the Region has worked so hard to improve and maintain.

The Chairman also expressed disappointment in the follow up article printed on January 22, 2013 as the reporter who wrote the article was invited to be part of a meeting at the health centre to hear first hand from the NWC and management of the health who refuted the allegations made in the original article.

He said the second article appears to be bridled with the issues of the wider community which does not necessarily reflect the situation at the health centre.
Please note that the Riversdale was fully refurbished by Ministry of Health in 2013.

Photo Caption: SERHA
Board Chairman Mr. Lyttleton Shirley

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