Jamaica Gleaner / WESTERN BUREAU:
A refurbished sewage treatment plant, a new general ward, a minor operating facility, a maternity ward and new offices for the Hanover Health Department were among the facilities handed over to the Noel Holmes Hospital in Lucea, Hanover, by government ministers Dr Andrew Wheatley and Dr Christopher Tufton on Thursday.
The much-needed facilities, which are expected to significantly boost the capability of the Type C hospital, cost approximately $40 million. The Noel Holmes Hospital is the only hospital in Hanover.
“This hospital is a Type C facility. It, therefore, has minimal levels of service. It is a referral institution, but it is critical to these parts of the country,” said Tufton. “As an extension of its importance, we have to place emphasis on ensuring that it works and it works well.”
The health minister pointed out that his ministry has embarked on a major overhaul for routine maintenance of the country’s existing health-care infrastructure. He further noted that the lack of adequate expenditure on the maintenance of the health-care infrastructure nationwide has compromised the ability to respond to the needs of the country’s changing health profile, particularly in the rural areas.
NOT KEPT APACE
“Frankly, both the personnel as well as the infrastructure have not kept apace with the changes and the demands on the system. As a consequence, this current budget has in it, primarily administered through the National Health Fund, over $700 million just to deal with maintenance issues,” stated Tufton.
The health minister further stated that over the next three to five years, there will be a major overhaul of the nation’s health infrastructure to include a US$40 million children and adolescent health care in Montego Bay, St James.
“Over the next three to five years, the health infrastructure in the country will be undergoing drastic changes, inclusive of a children’s and adolescent health-care facility to be constructed in Montego Bay, projected to cost in the region of some US$40 million,” said Tufton, adding that ground will be broken next year. “On a parallel track, we have to find the personnel to man the infrastructure and the equipment.”
Wheatley, the science, energy and technology minister, who handed over the sewage treatment facility, explained that that fits perfectly in the government’s plan to improve the overhaul infrastructure at the nation’s health-care facilities.