Kingston, Jamaica – Day 2

“Up in The Air”

A day and a life as a nurse at Kingston Public Hospital (Victoria Jubilee Maternity Hospital)

By Nekea Smith

Up in the air would be the best way to describe a typical nurse’s day at this hospital. KPH is one of the oldest hospitals in the world, with 503 beds. It is the only public hospital in Kingston, Jamaica that services the majority of the citizens in Kingston, and the Caribbean. Being a public hospital, the healthcare services that are provided are mostly free to patients, even medication, but free also comes at a cost. At KPH there is a major nursing shortage, which most times causes one nurse to care for anywhere between 7-15 patients alone. KPH is also severely underfunded, limiting resources available for the number of patients’ that KPH services. For example, there are only 9 ICU rooms for the entire hospital, and approximately 9 ventilators. At the Jubilee Maternity Hospital, their NICU has 143 beds but only 1 ventilator. Because the hospitals are public, they are not allowed to turn anyone away. This is when nurses use the best tool available to them; triage. Also, due to policy of not being able to turn anyone away there is an actual shortage of beds for patients to lay on. While visiting the emergency ward the charge nurse stated, “Sometimes we have to put patients on the floor. If that’s what we have to do to save a life, then we get on the floor.” Though KPH and Victoria Jubilee Maternity hospital services the majority of Kingston, and the Caribbean, it is up in the air whether or not it can continue as a public health hospital. With limited funding, and resources, nursing administration says they are just not sure whether they can hold on.

After touring the hospitals, we decided to end our day with a late lunch up in the air. We traveled up the narrow, and winding roads to the top of blue mountain. Our destination was Strawberry Hill. Strawberry Hill use to be home to the manager of famous Jamaican reggae artist Bob Marley. It has now been turned into a resort with absolutely breathtaking views, which made for a very serene, and relaxing afternoon.

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