Mon | Jun 5, 2023

JHTA Russell wants gov’t to spend another $45 billion on public hospitals

Published:Wednesday | March 29, 2023 | 12:11 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Robin Russell, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association.
Robin Russell, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association.


ROBIN RUSSELL, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), wants the Government to invest a further $45 billion towards expanding and rehabilitating several public hospitals across the island.

Speaking at the recent Omega Medical Hospital Foundation fundraising dinner in Negril, Russell praised the Government for the work being done at the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) in Montego Bay, saying the $14.1 billion it will now cost to complete that final phase of the restoration of the 400-bed Type A hospital was a worthwhile investment.

“I know there has been much fanfare and speculation in the press, but I applaud the renovations of the Cornwall Regional Hospital; it has been long in coming,” said Russell, a Montego Bay-based hotelier.

And I say we need to spend another $15 billion on Sav (Savanna-la-Mar Hospital), Ocho Rios, [St Ann’s Regional Hospital] and the KPH, each. I believe that having first-world medical emergency facilities throughout the island will not only make us a healthy nation, but give confidence to those who want to come and do medical procedures here,” added Russell.

The CRH restoration project, which was triggered by a noxious fumes issue, came to the fore in 2017 and caused a relocation of many of the services offered by the hospital to other locations. It also exposed other structural issues from poor maintenance over the past 25 years.

According to Russell, private entities such as the recently opened Omega Medical facility, which is offering first-world public emergency services, not only complements the nation’s public hospitals, but are helping to position Jamaica as a location offering first-class medical tourism.

As it relates to the Omega facility, Russell lauded the proprietors for their vision, mission, patriotism, and for taking the risk to invest in the country’s healthcare sector.

“Healthcare was even harder, but you knew what was needed and went ahead and built a facility to include state-of-the-art medical equipment and expertise,” said Russell. “Indeed, properties like Couples Resorts, and Moon Palace in Ocho Rios, whose nurses’ stations are maintained by Omega, can attest to the high level of proficiency provided by Omega, the brainchild of two fine physicians – Dr Dale Foster and Dr Sonia King Foster.

“Imagine our plight if we had no healthy workers to man our air and seaports, fly our planes, drive our taxis, our buses, teach our children? We need more facilities like Omega, more private and public investment in keeping our country healthy. And in building and preserving a productive nation. In fact, the globalisation of healthcare with all the new and emerging diseases, pandemics, and epidemics makes health and wellness top of mind, not just here in Jamaica but all over the world,” added Russell.