The Government has embarked on a concerted move to improve the delivery of health care in Trelawny, and is slated to spend an estimated $60 million to upgrade two facilities in the parish in the new year.
Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson announced that the Government would be spending approximately $10 million on refurbishing and infrastructural work at the Ulster Spring Health Centre, and an estimated $50 million on the Falmouth Hospital and Health Centre, the latter to be accommodated in the next financial year. The minister toured both facilities last Friday before making the announcements.
Work on the Ulster Spring Health Centre will be done in collaboration with The Friends of the Ulster Spring Hospital, a philanthropic organisation with local and overseas arms that has already given a commitment to raise funds for the improvement and support of the facility.
"I see the possibility for private-public partnership. I see the possibilities for your friends' group, both locally and overseas, to partner with the Government of Jamaica, to ensure that we get this Ulster Spring Clinic back to its glory days," Ferguson stated.
He informed that there would be general refurbishing of the building, upgrading of the sewerage system, reintroduction of a morgue service, provision of equipment and more medical personnel, including dentists at the facility.
"What we want to ensure is that when we begin the process of improving further, that we will be coming here to celebrate 50,000 or 60,000 visits or even more because the facility is able to do it because we have the human resources in terms of our doctors, our nurses, our dentists," he stated.
Ferguson also informed that one of six Cuban dentists slated to arrive on the island through a government-to-government agreement would be placed in Trelawny. He stated his intention to bring back the Ulster Spring facility to being "a centre of excellence".
With respect to the Falmouth Hospital and Health Centre, Ferguson announced that the operating theatre has been targeted for refurbishing, among other infrastructural upgrades.
"We have the pharmacy area, the waiting area to be dealt with (expanded). I have given a commitment that in the next financial year, we will be working on that. Already, we have done and are in the process of doing a consultancy to check out the soil type and some of the environmentally related issues that we believe must be checked out before we do any meaningful quantities of that work," Ferguson stated.
He said he was having discussions with the Ministry of Agriculture through the sugar transformation programme, with regard to sharing the cost of refurbishing the health centre.
"I think the initial estimate ... was somewhere in the region of $50 million. We are trying to see if we can get them to work with the Ministry of Health, even on a 50-50 basis, to have that done, and that would be projected in the next financial year," he stated.