Jamaica Gleaner / Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has said that the gradual refurbishing and expansion of community clinics, such as the Stony Hill Health Centre for which ground was broken yesterday, was the surest way of bringing back credibility to primary healthcare facilities across the country.
“It is important that we improve all of those things in these facilities in these communities to encourage people to come in and access its services,” Tufton said during the contract signing groundbreaking ceremony for the $60-million upgrading of the health centre in Stony Hill, West Rural St Andrew, to a Type Three facility. The Stony Hill Health Centre currently serves nearly 2,000 patrons per month.
Speaking to The Gleaner , Tufton said, “A lot of our primary healthcare facilities are relatively run-down. They have not been as maintained as we would like them to be. Not just the equipment and personnel, but also the aesthetics, the cleanliness, the cutting of the lawn, having the facilities painted, having waiting areas that are palatable, having bathrooms that are clean and have running water.”
He disclosed that there were nearly 1.7 million visits to community health centres, and 1.2 million visits to hospitals in 2017, an increase over 2016, which is a trajectory that is likely to take the pressure off hospitals, Tufton noted.
Nicole Morgan, a resident, explained what the upgrade of the clinic would mean for her and other residents seeking healthcare.
“It means that no longer will we be asked to wait so long in line. Neither will we be in a tent outside in the heat. I am very happy about this improvement, as are others who use this facility,” she said.
Meanwhile, National Health Fund (NHF) Chief Executive Officer Everton Anderson said that the agency has been moving aggressively towards an expansion of access to quality health services for Jamaicans.
“There is no doubt that, upon completion, the residents and surrounding communities of Stony Hill will benefit tremendously from the renovations,” said Anderson.