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The Darliston Health Centre in Westmoreland is to be extensively refurbished and transformed into a Centre of Excellence, with a start-up cost of some $25 million.

This was announced by Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, during a tour of the Savanna-la-mar public hospital, and the Darliston and Williams Field health centres in Westmoreland, on October 5.

The facility, which is a Type 3 health centre, will be retro-fitted to more effectively address the growing health needs of the thousands of residents in Darliston and adjoining communities.

Dr. Ferguson said that upgrading the health centre is in keeping with the Government’s declared position to focus on the renewal of primary health care across the country.

"At that institution (Darliston Health Centre), it is our intention to establish a centre of excellence. This year we will start the first phase of that project, which will cost some $25 million. Most of the work in year one will be done in the curative section, with the objective of moving to the administrative section in phase two," he noted.

He assured the residents that the focus on primary health care is not an indication that secondary health care is being neglected.

"This is really an attempt to strengthen primary health care, which speaks to  curative and preventive care, while at the same time easing the pressure on our secondary care system to allow it to respond to some of the more technical areas and illnesses in the hospitals,” the Minister explained.

Dr. Ferguson pointed out that Centres of Excellence – Darliston in Westmoreland, Isaac Barrant in St. Thomas, Claremont in St. Ann, and Santa Cruz in St. Elizabeth – are designed to create, at the community level, options for citizens, to prevent them from going to hospitals, knowing that they can get the same quality care in their communities.

The Minister indicated that improvement work would also be undertaken at the Williams Field Health Centre, to facilitate the large population.