Tue | Aug 11, 2020

State-of-the-art high-dependency units opened at Spanish Town Hospital

Published:Friday | July 10, 2020 | 12:17 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Dr Jacqueline Wright-James (left) chief medical officer, Spanish Town Hospital, explains the functions of the incubator and its importance to the new high-dependency units (HDUs) to Dr Christopher Tufton (second left), minister of health and wellness. Look
Dr Jacqueline Wright-James (left) chief medical officer, Spanish Town Hospital, explains the functions of the incubator and its importance to the new high-dependency units (HDUs) to Dr Christopher Tufton (second left), minister of health and wellness. Looking on are Josep María Bosch Bessa (second right), the Spanish ambassador to Jamaica, and Her Excellency Malgorzata Wasilewska (right), European Union ambassador to Jamaica. Occasion was the official opening of the HDUs at the Spanish Town Hospital on Wednesday.

Hundreds of premature infants and high-risk pregnant women will have improved quality healthcare with the official opening of the official 22 million Euro high-dependency units (HDUs) at the Spanish Town Hospital.

It is the third of four high-dependency units now in operation and is made possible through the Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PROMAC), with donor assistance from the European Union (EU).

Dr Christopher Tufton, minister of health and wellness, said that the PROMAC places Jamaica firmly on the road to sustainable Development Goal 3, which is good health and well-being for all, at all ages.

“PROMAC has provided the necessary enabling environment to reduce those outcomes, safeguarding the health and well-being of mothers and their babies,” he said.

Spanish Town Hospital, a Type B health facility, has about 100 admissions to the nursery per month and where five to eight per cent of babies are delivered prematurely.

Tufton said that the facility now has the benefit of a new maternal HDU, spanning 2,691 square feet of space, and a rehabilitated neonatal space and general nursery (3,283 square ft) completed at a cost of $423 million.

“These units will, no doubt, help to improve the management of high-risk pregnancies and reduce the incidence of neonatal deaths due to inadequate access to high-dependency care,” Tufton said.

Similar facilities have already been opened at the St Ann’s Bay and Victoria Jubilee hospitals. The Bustamante Hospital for Children is in line for similar improvement.

“PROMAC is a credit to the Jamaica public-health system, and the Government and people are grateful to the EU for their continued assistance,” said the health minister.

Head of EU delegation Malgorzata Wasilewska said the units were “sample outputs of the successful cooperation between Jamaica and the EU, which spans some 45 years”.

She said that over those decades, the EU supported Jamaica in a wide range of areas to include agriculture and rural development, infrastructure development, education, security, justice, environmental protection, and health.

“Through the multimillion-dollar programme for the reduction of maternal and child mortality, we are helping the Government to strengthen the health system in an effort to reduce the number of pregnancy-related deaths,” Wasilewska said.

She stated that the EU’s support has strategically facilitated training of more than 230 doctors and nurses in specialised programmes at The University of the West Indies and the University of Technology.

Thirteen specialised bed spaces were added to the Spanish Town Hospital. Five were placed in the obstetrics unit and eight in the neonatal unit.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com