JIS News

Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, is expressing satisfaction with the progress of work to develop the Santa Cruz Health Centre in St. Elizabeth into a Centre of Excellence.

That sentiment is also being expressed by Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA) Chairperson, Faye Bell.

Some $25 million has been spent to carry out work on the first of two phases to be undertaken, which commenced in January and was completed by the contractors in March, one month ahead of schedule.

The work entailed expansion and upgrading of the dental clinic, which also accommodates a laundry area; expansion of the maternal and child health areas, general laboratory services, and waiting area; and roof repairs. Equipment and furniture have also been procured from the allocation.

The SRHA, which is spearheading the project’s implementation, is awaiting the arrival of several pieces of equipment, which have been sourced from external suppliers and are currently in the process of being shipped.

Mrs. Bell anticipates that the equipment, inclusive of: three dental chairs, and an autoclave, among other provisions, will arrive in Jamaica and be in place at the centre by July.

The Santa Cruz Health Centre is one of four such public institutions islandwide which the Ministry has identified and earmarked for transformation into Centres of Excellence. The others are: the Isaac Barrant Health Centre, St. Thomas; Claremont Health Centre, St. Ann; and Darliston Health Centre, Westmoreland.

Speaking with JIS News in Mandeville on June 7, Dr. Ferguson informed that he visited the Centre recently to view the work and is “very pleased” with what he saw. He also pointed out that the work executed, thus far, has impacted the staff at the institution positively, noting that they are “highly motivated” to carry out their duties.

Dr. Ferguson informed that he will address matters pertaining to phase two as well as work to develop the other three Centres of Excellence, during his Sectoral Debate presentation on June 25.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Bell told JIS News that the contractors’ efforts resulting in completion of phase one ahead of schedule was “very good”, adding that “we are quite pleased and happy with (their) performance.”

She advised that the second and final phase will entail construction of a “complete” diagnostics centre, inclusive of a mobile x-ray unit; two buildings to relocate the maternal and child care section from the temporary area where it is currently housed; a staff lunch room; training and conference room; and additional roof repairs.

Mrs. Bell said she expects phase two to be completed before the end of the financial year.

Development of the Centres of Excellence is central to the administration’s focus on primary care renewal. The centres, according to Dr. Ferguson, are expected to offer a range of provisions, including diagnostic services, which some persons believe can only be accessed at hospitals.

“This is a strategy that will help to ease the pressure on our secondary care institutions,” the Minister said.

Contact: Douglas McIntosh