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The female medical ward at the St. Ann’s Bay Hospital in St. Ann is to be expanded at a cost of over $73 million.

Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, on Friday (February 15), signed a contract for the project during a ceremony at the hospital.

The work, to be undertaken over eight months by the firm, W.G. Walters Construction Limited, will entail the addition 47 rooms for adult female patients, thereby increasing the institution’s overall bed capacity by 20 per cent. Two on-call rooms for doctors, a conference room, a staff room, and a medical department are also among the work to be undertaken.

Addressing participants at Friday’s ceremony, Dr. Ferguson underscored the timeliness of the development, in light of the increased demand for health care at the institution.

“The number of admissions to the adult medical services (department) moved from 21, 250 in 2008 to 26,092 in 2010 (while) bed occupancy rates increased from 75 per cent in 2008 to 86 per cent in 2010. In 2012, the hospital’s daily census showed a range of 225 to 285 (in the) occupancy level (and) for the current patient load, there is need for at least 300 beds,” he pointed out.

Against this background, the Minister said the development should equip the institution with the necessary provisions to adequately accommodate all patients.

Dr. Ferguson informed that the hospital has also benefitted from extensive refurbishing of the air conditioning system serving the Accident and Emergency Department, dome at a cost of $10 million.

He stressed that these undertakings are consistent with the Government’s commitment to enhancing the delivery of medical care islandwide, particularly in public health institutions.