JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund is reviewing a proposal for the provision of medical equipment valued at approximately $15 million, to support the expansion project currently being undertaken at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI).
  • So far, CHASE has provided $5 million towards the $155 million expansion project, which includes the construction of two new operating theatres and an eight-bed Intensive Care Unit at the premier teaching hospital in the English-speaking Caribbean.
  • Speaking on a recent tour of the new facilities, that is near completion, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at CHASE, Billy Heaven said the Fund was established

The Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund is reviewing a proposal for the provision of medical equipment valued at approximately $15 million, to support the expansion project currently being undertaken at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI).

So far, CHASE has provided $5 million towards the $155 million expansion project, which includes the construction of two new operating theatres and an eight-bed Intensive Care Unit at the premier teaching hospital in the English-speaking Caribbean.

Speaking on a recent tour of the new facilities, that is near completion, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at CHASE, Billy Heaven said the Fund was established “to serve the many, and not the few” and that the project, represented the Fund’s commitment to its mandate.

Expressing his delight at the progress of the project, which has seen over 100 private sector entities donating funds totalling $115 million, Mr. Heaven said the technology driven project would be an asset to the people of Jamaica. Some $35 million has been made available by the Tony Thwaites private wing.

“I am pleased that CHASE was able to be associated with the project and we look forward to working with the hospital in whatever way possible in the future,” he stated.

Conducting the tour, Danny Williams, Chairman of the Fundraising Committee for the UHWI – Tony Thwaites Wing project, welcomed the news of continued support from the CHASE Fund.

He mentioned that although CHASE was examining the possibility of further helping with some of the equipment for the project, the government of Jamaica had completely underwritten the cost of the basic equipment valued at approximately $75 million. “We are looking at a project that is costing $225 million,” he said.

Dispelling concerns about the accessibility of the new intensive care unit to all Jamaicans, Mr. Williams stressed that the facility was for the UHWI, not for patients of the Tony Thwaites private wing. “Yes, the patients of the Tony Thwaites Wing will have access, but they will not represent more than five per cent of the usage of the facility,” he explained. “It is for the people of Jamaica, and this is very important [to note] because people keep making the mistake, it is a UHWI project,” he reiterated.

“There is no reason why the average person should not enjoy the state-of- the-art facility,” he added. Commenting on the project, Mr. Williams said that the committee endeavoured “to do things first world. We need to have a first world facility like this, in order to maintain accreditation so that, we will be able to do this ranking with other parts of the world,” he said.

From all accounts, the new facilities are one of a kind in the Caribbean. Compliments have come from a neurosurgeon, Mr. Williams noted, who commented that while being trained in Canada, the facilities were “nowhere as good as the new facilities” at the UHWI.

Indeed, the new facilities will channel Jamaica into a new era in health care delivery. The new eight-bed Intensive Care Unit, which has been built to international specifications, is being equipped with patient service modules and ICU bed and various monitors in each of the cubicles.

One of the cubicles will be an isolation cubicle, which will facilitate a patient who needs to be isolated. The hospital will be able to isolate the patient without any fear of contamination with the other cubicles.

Explaining the care to be offered at the new intensive care unit (ICU), Stephanie Reid, Chief Executive Officer at the UHWI said that the ICU would be able to provide the very best care to critical patients.

“We have an existing intensive care unit. However, the demand on the unit is as such that this unit had to be built,” she continued.

The creation of the new facility will ensure that surgical services, such as cardiothorasic surgery and neurosurgery can be accommodated. Patients, who are critically ill and in need of surgery, will be able to have an ICU bed available.

Other features include a nursing station, specially designed so that the nurse on duty can see all the patients in the cubicles without any difficulty. A central monitoring system is being set up at the station for patients. This means that, within each cubicle, there will be computerized monitors and all the information from each cubicle will be registered at the central station at the nurse’s desk.

“We will be able to track patients every minute of the day from the central station,” Mrs. Reid pointed out.

With respect to the two operating theatres where information can be communicated via monitors, a unique state-of-the-art air conditioning system called a laminar flow is being installed. The system provides an air curtain of conditioned air around the operating table.

The addition of the two theatres will bring the number of theatres to seven available at the hospital.

Boosting its capacity as the premier teaching institution, a special area across from the operating theatres was built to accommodate a telemedicine operation. Medical students will have access to live information via electronic communication from surgeons, while they have patients on the operating theatre.

The other component of the telemedicine technology is that, surgeons in Jamaica will be connected to surgeons abroad, and they will be able to exchange information live, while they are carrying out surgery. Neurosurgery will be the first type of surgery available. “This is also a first for the Caribbean,” the CEO said.

In addition to these new features, Mr. Williams said that a “link” was created from the new facility to the X-ray and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Unit. “This added $10 million to our bill, because we had to put in a lift,” he explained.

“That was not a part of the original cost. We also did not have a facility for student doctors [to gather]. We decided to put it in and raise more from the public,” he explained.

He stated that the fundraising committee had every confidence that the remaining $5 million needed to complete the 15-month project would be raised. To date, the CHASE Fund has approved $125 million for projects, under the health portfolio.