KINGSTON — Ground was broken for construction of the Centre of Excellence at the May Pen Hospital in Clarendon, on Tuesday (October 11).
The centre will house a dialysis treatment facility, which will be called The Beverly Nichols Dialysis Centre, in honour of Mrs. Nichols’ financial contribution to its construction.
The Centre will also consist of administrative offices, cafeteria, conference rooms and classrooms, haemodialysis treatment centre, imaging centre, information technology service, library, peritoneal dialysis, research centre, storage, specialty clinics and a supplies distribution centre.
Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony, Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, said the centre represented an important partnership with the Government, as it seeks to increase the availability of dialysis services to persons in need.
"The project document indicates that ten machines will be devoted to patients referred from May Pen Hospital and, by extension, the Southern Regional Health Authority or the Ministry of Health. Treatment will be offered to patients in a manner consistent with the Government’s no user fee policy,” he said.
Mr. Spencer said the Government is moving towards having persons access services by travelling no more than 30 minutes, so this was a step in the right direction.
He pointed out that the Government provides dialysis services in four major hospitals – Mandeville Regional, Cornwall Regional, Spanish Town and Kingston Public.
"We have also increased the number of dialysis units in the public health sector, from 38 to 63, within the past two years. We need additional units to be able to satisfy the needs of the increasing number of kidney patients that we are seeing in the public health sector,” he said.
Mr. Spencer noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the number of people with diabetes worldwide could double to 360 million by 2030, with deaths associated with the disease increasing by more than 50 per cent in the next 10 years.
He said that, according to the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey 2008, there are approximately 150,000 Jamaicans living with diabetes, a leading risk factor for kidney disease.
Member of Parliament for Central Clarendon, Hon. Mike Henry, said the initiative will boost access to renal services in the parish.
President of the Push Start Foundation, Beverly Nichols, said the concept of establishing a centre came from the need to assist. Push Start has pledged some US$200,000 to the construction of the centre, while the Clarendon Chamber of Commerce has pledged $50,000.
The Push Start Foundation engages the Jamaican Diaspora and Friends of Jamaica in securing critical funding for charitable grants and micro-business loans, for lasting impact in Jamaica.
The centre is being constructed in partnership with the Organization for Strategic Development in Jamaica, Push Start Foundation, the Jamaica Diaspora and the Ministry of Health. It will provide patient care, education and research.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter