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The Ambulatory Chemotherapy Unit at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) was officially opened on November 23, to provide enhanced care for cancer patients.

The unit is the first of its kind for the downtown-based hospital and will improve treatment and diagnostic services for increased survival and recovery of persons suffering from cancer.

A total of $6.5 million was spent to refurbish and equip the former Charles Moss Ward to house the facility. 

Most of the money, $5 million, went into the provision of over 30 pieces of equipment, including intravenous (IV) stands, infusion pumps, a crash cart, vital signs monitors, suction machine, and vinyl recliner chairs. A Bio-safety Cabinet was also installed, which is designed to reduce exposure during the preparation of hazardous drugs.

The remaining $1.5 million was spent on the renovation of the building, including tiling of bathroom and replacement of ceiling; painting and furnishing; installation of electrical outlets and plugs and circuits for air conditioning units.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, said improving the capacity of major hospitals such as the KPH, to offer cancer prevention, screening, early diagnosis, and treatment, is a critical part of efforts to improve overall health care.

He stated that the development of a centre of excellence for cancer is one of the “big ticket” items of the administration.

Chairman, South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA), Lyttleton Shirley, said that for many patients, chemotherapy is a vital component on the road to recovery, and the opening of the unit brings the KPH one step closer to revolutionising the level of treatment given to cancer patients.

“The new unit will now offer chemotherapy services to patients on an out-patient basis, freeing up at least 18 bed spaces, which would have normally been reserved on our wards for patients accessing this service each week. These patients can now access treatment comfortably in an environment that is more conducive to the type of treatment being administered,” he informed.

Mr. Shirley said that since the beginning of the year, the SERHA has spent US$356,860 to replace the cobalt source at the hospital and upgrade the unit.

“We have also purchased vital equipment as ventilators and operating theatres lights as well as repair diagnostic equipment totalling some $9 million. Additionally, equipment and accessories were purchased for the MRI unit costing almost US$230, 000,” he said.