Belle­vue leak­ing mil­lions

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Na­dine Wil­son-Har­ris Gleaner Writer na­dine.wil­son@glean­erjm.com corey.robin­son@glean­erjm.com

Hos­pi­tal pay­ing the NWC for wa­ter used be res­i­dents of neigh­bour­ing com­mu­nity

THE BELLE­VUE Hos­pi­tal has paid more than $31 mil­lion in wa­ter bills since the start of the year, but it ap­pears that a large por­tion of the com­mod­ity has gone to per­sons not as­so­ci­ated with the med­i­cal fa­cil­ity.

A Sun­day Gleaner probe has con­firmed that the hos­pi­tal is also pay­ing for wa­ter used by res­i­dents of a nearby com­mu­nity.

The Na­tional Wa­ter Com­mis­sion (NWC) bills Belle­vue ap­prox­i­mately $6 mil­lion each month, de­spite the dras­tic re­duc­tion in its pa­tient pop­u­la­tion over the last few years.

One year ago, the hos­pi­tal was in ar­rears to the NWC to the tune of $198 mil­lion, but ef­forts have since been made to clear this debt.

Health Min­is­ter Dr Christo­pher Tufton, last week, said he was aware of the high wa­ter bills be­ing paid by Belle­vue and he has since or­dered an au­dit to de­ter­mine the rea­son.

CAUSES

“Some of it is leak­age, be­cause of leak­ing pipes. We do have that sys­tem­atic prob­lem, but I think some of it, too, is be­cause oth­ers are en­joy­ing the fa­cil­ity,” Tufton told The Sun­day Gleaner.

“I in­tend to ask the au­di­tor gen­eral to look into the mat­ter as well as the NWC, and have the board of the hos­pi­tal find a way to cor­rect it,” added Tufton.

Doc­u­ments ob­tained by The Sun­day Gleaner sug­gest that high wa­ter us­age at the Kingston-based hos­pi­tal has been a re­cur­ring prob­lem and The en­trance to the Belle­vue Hos­pi­tal in east Kingston.

was brought to the at­ten­tion of of­fi­cials at the NWC from as early as three years ago.

In a memo dated April 29, 2013, an em­ployee of the util­ity com­pany noted that one of Belle­vue’s wa­ter me­ters was con­nected to an ad­join­ing hous­ing scheme.

A sug­gested plan of ac­tion to

rem­edy the prob­lem, at the time, in­cluded dis­con­nect­ing the wa­ter me­ter and pro­vid­ing paid wa­ter ac­cess to the com­mu­nity. How­ever, there is no ev­i­dence to sug­gest that any­thing has been done to rem­edy the prob­lem.

A sub­se­quent let­ter from NWC in 2015, which was ad­dressed to the hos­pi­tal’s man­age­ment, blamed the prob­lem on leak­ing pipes on the hos­pi­tal prop­erty.

“With re­gard to the ex­ces­sive charges in­curred on Belle­vue Hos­pi­tal, which was as a re­sult of leaks dis­cov­ered on the prop­erty, the Na­tional Wa­ter Com­mis­sion will not be in a po­si­tion to waive such charges which are deemed to be ac­cu­rately com­puted and at the pre­scribed com­mer­cial rate,” read a sec­tion of a let­ter, which was sent by one of NWC’s vi­cepres­i­dents to the chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Belle­vue Hos­pi­tal, La­toya McFar­lene, in Au­gust 2015.

At least $24 mil­lion was al­lo­cated in the 2015-2016 fis­cal bud­get by the Min­istry of Fi­nance to hire a con­trac­tor to re­place the un­der­ground pipes to ad­dress pos­si­ble leak­age. How­ever, the work is yet to be com­mis­sioned. said the se­nior of­fi­cer.

The po­lice of­fi­cer, who asked not to be named, said the in­ves­ti­ga­tors are fol­low­ing sev­eral leads, and that as late as Thurs­day, 12 men were de­tained for their sus­pected role in the gun vi­o­lence that has been plagu­ing Glen­de­von in Mon­tego Bay.

The cops said that dur­ing an oper­a­tion last week, two AK-47 ri­fles, one Uzi sub­ma­chine gun, a 9mm pis­tol and a large num­ber of rounds were seized in bushes in Lime Tree, Glen­de­von.

St James has recorded twice the num­ber of mur­ders com­mit­ted in any other po­lice di­vi­sion since the start of the year. Po­lice fig­ures re­veal that 200 per­sons have been mur­dered in St James since Jan­uary.

FILE

JER­MAINE BARN­ABY/ FREE­LANCE PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

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