Wed | Aug 17, 2022

Ministry gets ball rolling to transform Spanish Town Hospital

Published:Friday | August 5, 2022 | 12:11 AMAsha Wilks/Gleaner Writer
Gerfield Wood (second left), managing director of GW Architects Group, explaining the design model to Dr Christopher Tufton (left), minister of health and wellness; Stuart Murray (partly hidden), Spanish Town Hospital consultant; and Dr Natalie Whylie, sen
Gerfield Wood (second left), managing director of GW Architects Group, explaining the design model to Dr Christopher Tufton (left), minister of health and wellness; Stuart Murray (partly hidden), Spanish Town Hospital consultant; and Dr Natalie Whylie, senior medical officer of Kingston Public Hospital, at the launch of the tender process for the redevelopment of the Spanish Town Hospital. The event took place at the New Kingston offices of the Ministry of Health & Wellness on Thursday.

The Government is now seeking contractors to undertake a massive overhaul at the Spanish Town Hospital amid rising demand for services and a boom in road and housing construction projects across St Catherine.

“It’s been a long journey that we have had to toil and sweat and to make a lot of hours of commitment to getting us to this phase,” Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said on Thursday, noting that an invitation to tender has been launched with the aim of starting construction by the first quarter of 2023 and continue for two years.

Opened in 1952 with 200 beds, the overburdened Spanish Town Hospital is now housing 30 in-patients.

The renovation will see a new six-storey modern facility being constructed and linked to the original building with a skywalk.

It will also incorporate newly established areas such as accident and emergency, a radiology department, outpatient service, a surgical suite, a high-dependency unit, a central sterile service department, an underground staff parking lot and other features.

New services to be offered at the facility will include urology, oncology, cardiology, ophthalmology and psychiatry.

Tufton added that an information and communication technology component would also be added.

“They (St Catherine residents and staff of the facility) will get the relief that they have long been waiting for, [that] they have long been concerned about, long complained about,” Tufton said while addressing the media at the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ head offices in New Kingston.

The health minister encouraged all to help maintain facilities being built under the ministry’s health systems strengthening programme, including 10 health centres, three of which will be located in St Jago, Old Harbour and Portmore in St Catherine. Works are also scheduled for the St Ann’s Bay and May Pen hospitals.

“We build buildings and we allow them to deteriorate far faster than they should because of poor maintenance and we must accept that that is a shortcoming,” said Tufton, who expressed hope that by the end of the process, more experience and technical know-how would be garnered to treat with such a weakness through an organised preventative process.

Tufton acknowledged that despite plans to improve the physical infrastructure, adequate staffing was critical to allow the expanded hospital to deliver efficient services.

“I would be less than frank if I did not accept and admit that there are concerns in that area,” he said, admitting that the ministry had “not put the right systems in place to attract the right people, train them on a continuous basis in healthcare management and also to retaining some of the expertise that we require”.

However, Tufton said that these issues would be addressed over time, while citing a programme led by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer now under way to assess the human resource needs of hospitals and begin a conversation with local and international learning institutions to deliver specialised training to meet staff needs.

asha.wilks@gleanerjm.com