Manchester, Portland infirmaries to be upgraded
The Government is to spend $135 million to build new wards at the Manchester and Portland infirmaries, commencing this financial year.
Minister of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie, who made the announcement, said that the funds to build the new wards would be sourced from property taxes and the Equalization Fund.
The male and female wards at the Portland Infirmary will be designed to house 55 residents in a private-home setting, which will also feature a nurses' station and an examination room.
Grab bars and ramps will be placed in all appropriate locations, to ensure access to all mobility aids, while energy efficiency will be promoted by the use of solar power and LED lighting. The facility will cost approximately $80 million.
The female ward at the Manchester Infirmary, which will have similar features, will house 43 residents. It will be constructed at a cost of $55 million.
McKenzie said that improvements would be done to the administrative offices at the Santa Cruz Infirmary at a cost of $25 million.
"We are committed to the development of all our infirmaries as places where our people can live in and be cared for with dignity. Many of the occupants of these facilities have served this country, in the private and public sectors, for many years. They have worked for us; now, we will work for them," he said.
Meanwhile, on the matter of disaster preparedness, McKenzie said that the ministry was reviewing the shelter stock across the island, especially in disaster-prone areas.
He said the plan was to establish a proper shelter management system, rather than having to resort to schools and community centres during emergencies.
McKenzie called on residents who reside in vulnerable areas to obey evacuation orders issued, noting that applicable laws will be enforced to ensure full compliance.
McKenzie also expressed concern about the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility to which Jamaica has paid more than $462 million annually since its inception in 2007, but is yet to receive a payout.
He said he has asked the CARICOM review team to look at the issue and make an appropriate recommendation.
The insurance scheme, which involves CARICOM member countries and some other Caribbean territories, provides cover to countries hit by natural disasters.