- The project was spearheaded by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the RJR Communications Group.
- Funding was provided by a wide cross section of public and private sector stakeholders.
- Renovation of the Annotto Bay Hospital is consistent with the government’s 2013/14 human capital development strategic priority focus.
The recently completed rehabilitation of the Annotto Bay Hospital in St. Mary, done at over $90 million, represents one of the most significant displays of public/private sector collaboration on a major project undertaken in Jamaica.
The work was to repair damage to the institution’s infrastructure, which was sustained during the passage of Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.
The project was spearheaded by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the RJR Communications Group, which launched a public appeal for assistance and contributed $250,000 to the project.
Completed less than one year after the hurricane’s onslaught, the project’s scope of works entailed repair and refurbishing of the female, medical, paediatric, and maternity wards; kitchen, doctors’ quarters, administrative office, linkage corridors; and the accident and emergency, and medical records departments.
Other works carried out included: construction of a new laundry area at the nurses’ quarters; installation of water tanks at all critical areas of the hospital; retrofitting two 40-foot containers for storage; road repairs; and landscaping. These were complemented by the Ministry’s provision of a new ambulance.
Funding was provided by a wide cross section of public and private sector stakeholders. Chief among these were: the National Health Fund (NHF); Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund; Japanese Embassy in Jamaica; National Works Agency (NWA); St. Mary Parish Council, which waived all fees for construction activities; and North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA).
Residents of Annotto Bay and adjacent communities also showed their appreciation for the institution though their various inputs. These included some $70,000 from the Annotto Bay Anglican Church; another $80,000 was raised by the Annotto Bay High School; while 50 bed tables for the wards were donated by a community worker.
On a smaller, but no less significant scale, some $3,400 was contributed by several residents, who made the donations out of their personal resources.
Renovation of the Annotto Bay Hospital is consistent with the government’s 2013/14 human capital development strategic priority focus, emphasizing development and strengthening of health care at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels.
Speaking at the recent rededication of the hospital, Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, said he was “deeply moved” by the “tremendous outpouring” of support for the hospital, in the collective efforts to repair the damage.
“Even before that, when I visited, I saw the conditions …and I am very pleased with what has taken place. It is a lesson learnt…that with a sense of mission and fixity of purpose…what has happened at Annotto Bay…can be replicated right across Jamaica in all 24 public hospitals… once we can come together…to get that kind of….partnership,” he stated.
In thanking all stakeholders and donors for their inputs, Dr. Ferguson urged the nation to “look…seriously… at partnerships… and see how we can capitalize on these to build our country.”
Annotto Bay Hospital’s Senior Medical Officer (SMO), Dr. Ray Fraser, stated that the renovation was long overdue. “It now allows our staff to provide services in a more comfortable and conducive atmosphere, which can only enhance the quality of patient care.”
Dr. Fraser informed that the hospital, currently a Type C institution, has, over the years, benefitted from improvements in its staff complement and health care service delivery capacity, to better enable it to fulfill client needs.
He noted that the staff complement at the 146-year old facility has increased from 80 in 1994 to 270 currently, including 70 nurses, four medical technologists, and 40 doctors, providing services in medicine, paediatrics, surgery, laparoscopy, obstetrics and gynaecology, anesthesiology, psychiatry and child guidance, accident and emergency, laboratory and x-ray services.
The SMO contended that the renovation will also serve to “consolidate and strengthen” the institution, as it seeks official status as a Type B facility, and also enhance its effectiveness in providing some services to health facilities in adjacent communities such as St. Mary’s capital, Port Maria; and Buff Bay and Port Antonio, Portland.
The SMO noted several defining moments at the hospital during and after hurricane Sandy’s passage, which he contended underlined the staff’s and residents’ commitment to the institution.
One such, he recounted, occurred in the height of the storm’s passage. He explained that while sections of roofs were dislodged and sent flying by the gale force winds, forcing several persons to seek alternative coverage, “the staff skillfully relocated the paediatric ward to the administrative block and managed five critically ill patients located on other wards.”
In emphasizing the close relationship between the community and hospital, Dr. Fraser disclosed that following the hurricane’s impact, residents joined “dedicated” members of staff to initiate preliminary remedial work. This, he pointed out, ensured that the hospital’s activities continued uninterrupted, adding that, “despite the adversity (the institution) never closed.”
The SMO also informed that one patient, who was critically ill and received medical attention during the storm, showed her appreciation by mobilizing her family and friends to make significant donations and provide workmen to assist with the refurbishing.
Dr. Fraser commended the hospital’s administration and staff, whom, he said, have provided “yeoman service” in effectively delivering quality health care, particularly over the past year, “under some of the most difficult and (challenging circumstances).”
“This Annotto Bay Hospital is not just a hospital; it functions as a stabilizing institution within the community. Apart from providing quality health care, (it) gives hope, it instills pride, and gives a feeling of belonging and a sense of security, knowing that there is a reliable health facility that is easily accessible to them and their families,” the SMO added.
Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency, Yasuo Takese, indicated that his country’s approximately $11 million (US$123,000) assistance, was facilitated under the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects. This contribution was used to fund work on the female ward.
“I am very pleased to see the wonderful job of construction of the female ward which will cater to the medical needs of women in the communities. I sincerely hope that the cooperation project for the Annotto Bay Hospital will further strengthen the friendly relations between Jamaica and Japan,” Ambassador Takase said.
In his remarks, RJR Group Managing Director, Gary Allen, commended all the various stakeholders for making the project a success.
He explained that the RJR’s support for the hospital was influenced by the timely medical assistance, which the institution’s staff extended to members of his family at critical points, and the highly professional manner in which they executed same, when this was sought.
Member of Parliament for South East St. Mary, where the hospital is situated, Dr. Winston Green, said he was “elated” by the institution’s transformation.
“What a change (that) has come over the hospital. I have been brought to a place of insightful realization. We are, indeed, grateful to all persons who have assisted in this cause. I (also) laud the efforts of the valiant team of members here at the Annotto Bay Hospital. Your work through the night, during Sandy, and in…the… days, after… also helped to bring (this) seed of hope into fruition,” he said.
Port Maria’s Mayor, Councillor Levan Freeman and Custos Rotulorum for St. Mary, Hon. Alric “Bobby’ Pottinger, also hailed the project.
The Annotto Bay Hospital holds pride of place, not only in the hearts of residents of the community nestled at its feet, but also those across the island who, at some point, have benefitted from its services. It has, undoubtedly, established a credible reputation as a guardian angel of effective health care delivery.