MONTEGO BAY – The delivery of health care at the Black River Hospital, in St. Elizabeth, got a well needed boost on Friday, April 19, with the official opening of a new maternity ward.
A building on the premises was converted and refurbished by the National Health Fund (NHF) at a cost of approximately $15 million, and this resulted in the provision of a 25-bed maternity ward, and an isolation bay. It will also serve as an overflow ward for the Accident and Emergency Department.
The smaller area which previously served as a maternity ward will be renovated and put to another use.
The hospital serves an estimated population of about 175,000 from St. Elizabeth and neighboring parishes.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, said that maternal and child health is an area of fundamental importance for his Ministry, and the opening of the maternity ward is in keeping with the ministry's commitment to improve that area of health care in Jamaica.
He said that the country has been successful in obtaining grant funding from the European Union (EU) worth $2.5 billion for a project to improve maternal and child health, and to help with advancing the country's progress towards achievement of its Millennium Development Goals.
"The project, which is expected to commence this year, will focus on the establishment of six high dependency units for newborn care, and five high dependency units for maternal care, in the four Regional Health Authorities," he stated.
Dr. Ferguson pointed out that the high dependency units are to be established over the next five years.
The Minister expressed appreciation to the NHF for its assistance to the health sector across the island, particularly health facilities in the Southern Health Region, which have received help valued at $70 million over the last three years. He added than an additional $36 million will be spent on improvements to the Black River Hospital this financial year.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the NHF, Mr. Sterling Soares, encouraged the residents of Black River and surrounding communities who use the health facility, to make full use of the services provided there. He told them that there is no need to go elsewhere, except on referral from a doctor.
Contact: Bryan Miller
JIS Regional Office