St Joseph's to be health ministry's new home
The St Joseph's Hospital property in East Kingston is to be the site of a new home of the Ministry of Health.
Dr Fenton Ferguson, health minister, said while his staff are now scattered in various locations because of them leaving the Oceana building in downtown Kingston, plans are well advanced to have the team in a centralised location.
The ministry is to spend more than $53 million this year for rent, and Ferguson said this is mainly because it is no longer located in the Oceana building, which was owned by the Urban Development Corporation.
"The building was sold, and you would have been well informed as it relates to the sickness of that building over the years," Ferguson said.
"We had no choice but to move. It was difficult to find any one building that would be able to accommodate the number of employees we had at Oceana, and so we have had to utilise some buildings, some owned by the ministry of health, others we have had to rent in the new Kingston area, which, as you know, the cost of rental in New Kingston is very high," the minister said.
The health ministry is set to get $361.3 million for rental of property and machinery, up from $308 million this fiscal year.
Ferguson, however, said the Government intended to cut the cost for rental by constructing its own building at St Joseph's.
"We will embark this year on doing the development plans for St Joseph's and part of that blueprint will be a home for the Ministry of Health. In that regards, we have already signed off with CHASE; they are going to be providing funding to do that blueprint and development plan, and it is our view that we will complete the design works during the upcoming financial year to move into the construction by 2016-2017 of a new home for the ministry of health," Ferguson said.
The ministry this year is expecting to earn $170.4 million in patient fees from the St Joseph's Hospital, which the Government acquired from private interests within the last five years.
Ferguson said the Government plans to locate a cancer treatment centre at the hospital. He said St Joseph's will be the centre of excellence in Kingston.