BARRING ANY unforeseen hindrances, the new cardiac unit of the Bustamante Hospital for Children (BHC) will be ready by the end of February 2014.
Anthony Wood, chief executive officer of the BHC, said he was more than pleased with the pace of the project and noted the wing is the first of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean.
"It is a very important area to provide cardiac surgery, because while we have four operating theatres, this will be a unit that will be dedicated to cases on the waiting list," he said. "So it is a very good investment."
Currently, at least 150 children are on the waiting list for cardiac surgeries, with new patients added each year. The 10-bed, $150-million cardiac centre will also be equipped with a lab for minor surgery, and support area for staff that includes counselling rooms and conference rooms for teaching purposes.
"It also includes overnight areas for both males and females so that if we have critical patients that need 24-hour management, the doctors can go and get some rest and monitor the patients while they are in the physical structure," he said.
Wood was speaking with The Gleaner during a tour of the construction site by Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson and other stakeholders. The tour also encompassed the Edna Manley Health Centre in Grants Pen.
Ferguson said the cardiac facility would rival any in the world and noted it would cost about US$6 million to equip it. Most of that money will come from Chain of Hope UK along with proceeds from the next Shaggy and Friends show.
When completed, the unit will also increase the number of teaching and training missions, and allow for other elective surgeries to be done simultaneously by utilising theatre rooms that would normally be used during cardiac cases.
Each year, 400 to 500 children are born in Jamaica with congenital heart disease. Of that number, approximately 50 per cent will require medical or surgical intervention or will face premature death.