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Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says the Government has committed some $50 million to upgrade and rehabilitate facilities at the Black River Hospital in St. Elizabeth.

“We intend to do some specific activities; already we have spent over $7 million on the pediatric ward. For phase two of that ward, the sum of $6.5 million will be spent to complete that project. We will also provide an incubator which is in the region of $850.000. There is a sewage project that is a part of an overall national response of $250 million, (and) of that sum, Black River Hospital will benefit from a sum of over $20 million, to respond to situations,” he outlined, while addressing journalists on Friday (Nov. 9), following a tour of the institution.

Other expenditures, which the Minister said are scheduled for the hospital, include an additional $3.5 million to effect repairs on a tank, and upgrading of the outpatient ward at a cost of $19.9 million during fiscal year 2013/14. He advised that costing for refurbishing of the maternity ward is being awaited, while assuring that once this is received, that section “will be given attention”.

Dr. Ferguson informed that a significant portion of the scheduled work is expected to be completed by the end of the current fiscal year, with the reminder slated to be concluded during 2013/14.

In noting that the institution is in a “critical” area of the country, Dr. Ferguson asserted that it must be equipped to respond to the needs of persons in the parishes that it serves.

“In the present scenario, the demand for quality care across the country is very competitive from region to region. And it is my intention, while we are working on the over three hundred health centres upgrading, (to focus) not only (on) the physical infrastructure, but (also) the human resource and the diagnostic response at (the) primary level,” the Minister said, while assuring that secondary health facilities will not be neglected.

Dr. Ferguson also disclosed that focus is also being placed improving security at health institutions. To this end, he advised that perimeter fencing have been erected at several institutions, resulting from tender and procurement processes currently underway. He also informed that the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) will be providing support for these undertakings.

“We are now in the process of getting support from the Pan American Health Organization, in looking at security arrangements in our health facilities, especially our hospitals, (which) will make a big difference,” he assured.