Negril to get new US$200m hospital
Nagra Plunkett, Assignment Coordinator
WITH AN estimated price tag of US$200 million (approximately J$17 billion), a group of civic-minded Jamaican professionals and international sponsors are pushing an ambitious plan to construct the Negril International Hospital (NIH) to service the resort town.
Its visionary - hotelier Winston Wellington - has his sights set on groundbreaking later this year and plans to have at least 50 beds available by 2015 as part of the first phase of the project.
"We are hoping that US$50 million will get us to the first part of the project," he told The Gleaner. "There are two options available for the land to house the project. The Government has 82 hectares of (land) just as you leave Negril on your way to Montego Bay, and we are asking for 100 acres, and then a private donor has expressed an interest to donate lands to us in Orange Bay, Hanover."
Wellington, who chairs the NIH board of directors, called for donations during the first annual black-tie fund-raising dinner at Grand Palladium resort in Hanover on Saturday night.
"There is a long road ahead, which requires hard work and your participation. I encourage you to continue to lend your efforts in building this state-of-the-art hospital that will benefit the community, each other and the diaspora," said the hotelier, who operates Traveller's Beach Resort in Negril and chairs the non-profit organisation, Negril Education Environment Trust.
"The closest hospital to Negril to serve its thousands of people and the surrounding region is Savanna-la-Mar Hospital, which is 45 minutes away. We believe that if there was a hospital in the area to serve the community, returnees, tourists and other visitors, victims' lives would have undoubtedly been saved. It is through this concept that the Negril International Hospital Wellness Centre was born."
State Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and Member of Parliament for Western Hanover Ian Hayles read the message from Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who pledged her full support and assistance to the project.
"Your vision to provide a first-class medical and wellness services facility to the community of residents and visitors is commendable and timely. It brings to Negril a necessary facility that will improve access and delivery of health care services," Hayles read.
"At the same time, the industry for which Negril is famous, tourism, has further untapped potential in areas of health tourism. Indeed, Negril is an ideal location for the visitor seeking a destination for health and wellness."
NIH is being touted as an environmentally sound facility that will offer professional service, innovative surgical procedures and provide nurture for the whole body, mind, soul and spirit of patients.