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Multimillion-dollar expansion for Sav-la-Mar hospital next year

Published:Thursday | November 30, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
David Mair (left) from Food For The Poor had the attention of Dr Alfred Dawes (right), chief medical officer at Savanna-la-Mar General Hospital, and Eric Clarke, chairman, Management Committee at the hospital, at a press conference at Jamaica National on Belmont Road, St Andrew, yesterday.

The chronic shortage of space at the Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital in Westmoreland will soon be a thing of the past as plans are in the pipeline for a new block to be constructed, the institution's chairman, Eric 'Busha' Clarke, has said.

The new block will take the bed count past 300 and ease the pressure on the Type B facility which, despite a 40 per cent increase in the population in the town, has not been expanded since it opened its doors to the public in 1964.

"The number-one issue at the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital has been space. We really don't have space to do anything at all," Clarke told journalists at a press conference at offices of Jamaica National on Belmont Road, St Andrew, yesterday.

"I am happy to say that the minister (health minister Dr Christopher Tufton) has instructed the National Health Fund to start the design of a new building. I am sure that we will see what that looks like by sometime next week, and then we can start talking about costing."

Construction could top $300 million based on designs, but Clarke said that at a minimum, it would be a two-storey building, capable of hosting the clinic, a pharmacy, the records office, and other non-essential depart-ments that would have been relocated from the current building. The expansion will take in approximately 25,000 square feet of space.




"It's not going to be a small building because the plan is to take out what I call the non-essentials - such as the pharmacy, the clinic, the records office - out of the current building and put them in a new space that will free up a lot more room to expand the wards," Clarke said.

"We are very fortunate in that we have a lot of ground space, and in tandem with that development, I am pleased to announce that the much-talked-about sewage system will be commissioned next month."

Construction on the new building should begin next year, with a defined budget in place. The hospital said that a public-private partnership agreement is to be sought to provide funding, along with Government input.

"The wards at the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital are overcrowded, and we simply do not have enough physical space to draw on. So the need for a new building is extremely urgent at this time," Clarke told The Gleaner.

... New X-ray system to improve standard of quality

Chief medical officer at the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital in Westmoreland Dr Alfred Dawes said that the acquisition of a mobile C-Arm Fluoroscopic X-ray system sets a new standard for quality care at that health facility.

The machine was procured at a cost of US$125,000 (J$16 million) with assistance from charitable organisations such as Young at Heart and Food For The Poor.

"As a result of the donation of this critical piece of equipment, we have come a far way in securing vital [health] information of our patients, and at the same time, improving our services to our community. We have never had one before at the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital," Dawes said.

Other improvements include an expansion of the laboratory for inpatients and outpatients, renovation of the doctors' and nurse's lounge, as well as the repairing and resurfacing of roads on the hospital compound.