Sun | Aug 20, 2017

New children’s hospital to ease burden on health sector

Published:Wednesday | January 11, 2017 | 1:00 AMChristopher Serju
Health Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton (left), observes Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith (centre), signing the letters of exchange to facilitate the construction of the Western Hospital for Children in St. James. Also participating in the signing is China’s Ambassador to Jamaica, Niu Qingbao.
Niu Qingbao (right), ambassador of China to Jamaica, shakes hands with Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton while Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith looks on. This followed the signing of Letters of Exchange yesterday between Jamaica and the People’s Republic of China for the Western Children’s Hospital Project.
Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton greeting a mother and her children during his recent visit to Noel Holmes Hospital in Lucea, Hanover.
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The 220-bed children's hospital slated to be built on land beside the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, St James, is projected to be a major game changer in local paediatric health-care delivery.

Offering specialised care for children of all ages, the hospital is a gift from the People's Republic of China. Monday's signing of letters of exchange by Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton and the People's Republic of China's ambassador to Jamaica, Niu Qingbao, paved the way for construction of the state-of-the-art facility to begin. However, the health minister explained that there were still a few approvals yet to be signed off on by local authorities, even though design plan and other hurdles had been cleared.

"On our side, Jamaica that is, our responsibility now is to ensure that we get the approvals for the land, for construction to begin; to ensure that the appropriate infrastructure to allow the construction to take place - like electricity, water access, is available to the land," Tufton told the signing ceremony.

 

NEW ERA FOR

 

 

CHILD HEALTH CARE

 

Upon completion of the first public hospital built in Jamaica in more than 40 years since the May Pen Hospital in the 1970s, it is expected to usher in a new era for local child health care, according to Dr Tufton.

"This new hospital will become a part of the institutional capacity to enable Jamaica to meet targets set by the Millennium Development Goals, particularly as it relates to the health status of our children. We are committed to embracing international best practices in management and services standards incorporating modern information and communication technologies, state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment facilities and satisfy international health insurance portability and accountability standards," the health minister explained.

The main construction content of Jamaica's second children's hospital, which will offer specialised care to children and adolescents, will include an outpatient building, ward building, apartment for nurses, and a mortuary. In addition, it will have, among other things, a pharmacy, emergency department, laboratory, operation room and department of surgery.

To this end, the health minister explained that the recruitment drive to provide the different levels of specialised services has already begun.

 

AN ENTERPRISE TEAM

 

"There is also going to be a need, during the construction phase, for us on the Ministry of Health side to ensure that the appropriate levels of personnel are available, because clearly, once the facility is constructed, it has to be equipped and the doctors, the nurses, the administrators have to be in place. So we have established in the Ministry of Health, for want of a better term, an enterprise team. That team is going to start the planning process immediately. So that the necessary personnel and infrastructural needs can be secured, while construction is taking place to ensure to that we deliver the product on time," said Tufton.

Built in 1963, the 283-bed Bustamante Children Hospital for Children caters to children 12 years old and younger and serves about 35,887 outpatients and 70,331 casualties per year - a reflection of the grave need for specialised children's hospital services, outside of the Corporate Area.

Tufton spoke to the invaluable role of the new health facility in helping to redress this imbalance.

"The Western Children's Hospital will seek to achieve the vision of developing an international centre of excellence which will cater to the needs of our children. This facility will integrate the values of 'family-centred care' into the design and operations, a first of its kind in Jamaica," he said.

Qingbao noted that the agreement for the hospital's construction is a tangible demonstration of the excellent relations between the countries.

The Chinese will be responsible for the design of the project, supplying necessary construction machinery, equipment, and material, as well the requisite experts to organise construction, installation and testing of hospital equipment.

The cost of 750,000 yuan (J$13.9 million) will be disbursed from the grants as stipulated in the agreement on economic and technical cooperation between both countries, signed on February 20, 2015.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com