MONTEGO BAY – One of the facilities in the Health sector where major upgrading works will be carried out in the coming months is the St. Ann’s Bay Regional Hospital, in St. Ann.
Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, tells JIS News that there has been an increase in the Capital allocation for the health sector for 2013/14, pointing out that approximately $2 billion has been allocated for development projects, as against $611 million which was allocated last year.
This, he says, will facilitate the planned improvements at health facilities across the island, including the St. Ann’s Bay Regional Hospital.
Recently the Minister broke ground for a 47-bed female medical ward at the hospital, to be constructed at a cost of $73 million.
The health facility currently has a 250-bed capacity, and is the regional referral hospital for the North Eastern parishes of St. Ann, St. Mary and Portland. It provides a range of services to an estimated population of approximately 365,000 persons.
The decision to add the female medical ward came about after Minister Ferguson visited the hospital in November 2012, and was briefed on the need for such a facility.
“On that occasion I gave my word to have the ward added, recognizing that one of the main problems that was affecting the throughput, relative to the accident and emergency area, was the absence of a female medical ward,” the Minister says.
The project, which includes the construction of the ward, two on-call rooms for doctors, a conference room, a staff room, a Sister’s Office and a medical department, is scheduled to be completed in eight months, and will increase the hospital’s overall bed capacity by approximately 20 percent.
Also on the agenda for the St. Ann’s Bay Regional Hospital for this financial year is the building of an Obstetric Operating Theatre and a maternal high dependency unit.
“In fact, this has been put in the Ministry’s 2013/2014 budget. This is expected to take us closer toward meeting our Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) with respect to improvements in the maternal, infant and child mortality ratios,” the Health Minister stated, while addressing the ground breaking ceremony for the female medical ward.
He tells JIS News that with overseas partners presenting the St. Ann’s Bay Hospital with two refurbished ambulances on April 9, and the Ministry’s plan to purchase 17 more ambulances by September this year to distribute to health facilities across the island, the hospital should have adequate ambulance service in the future.
The Minister says that all these improvements are with a view to moving the health service at the St. Ann’s Bay Regional Hospital to another level.
“It is my intention, and that of the Government of Jamaica, that the St. Ann’s Bay Regional Hospital must become a Centre of Excellence,” Dr. Ferguson emphasizes.
He adds that some four Centres of Excellence in the area of primary health care are also being established across the island.
The Minister notes that all this is taking place against the background of the Government continuing to embrace a patient centred approach to health care delivery.
Meanwhile, Mayor of St. Ann’s Bay, Councillor Desmond Gilmore, tells JIS News that the improvements at the St. Ann’s Bay Regional Hospital could not have come at a better time, bearing in mind the relevance of that health facility to the demand of local citizens and overseas visitors to the North Coast.
For her part, Senior Medical Officer of Health at the facility, Dr. Nicole Dawkins, says the improvements will have a tremendous impact on service delivery at the institution.