Music

New ward for Bustamante hospital

More beds needed, Shaggy explains

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

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The Bustamante Hospital for Children is to benefit from a new three-storey, 150-bed ward, set to cost $150 million, using the majority of the funds coming from the Shaggy & Friends concert staged in 2018.

The announcement was made yesterday, just over a week after it was reported, that well over a year after the staging of the popular concert organised by two-time Grammy-winning artiste Shaggy, the hospital is yet to benefit from the funds raised.

During a press conference at the hospital, Shaggy sought to clear the air regarding the use of over $100 million raised by the biennial concert, noting that initially the funds were earmarked for the construction of an intensive care unit (ICU).

He disclosed that midway, the plans changed due to the more pressing needs at the hospital, the only one of its kind in Jamaica, and it was felt that the need was for more bed space.

“I had this idea that since we only have five beds in the ICU for the whole of Jamaica, maybe we can increase it to 10. We set a goal and we made $100 million. Let's face it, $100 million not going to build an ICU. One bed is [US]$150,000 and we need five of them. Then on top of that you have to get a building. So having that money there [the plan] was to keep another concert or do other fund-raising here and there, just to see how we can make this happen. Halfway through the whole thing Rebecca [his wife] called to say we have a big bed problem right now because of dengue. She went to a meeting and called to say just buying beds alone won't work because they have nowhere to put the beds,” Shaggy said.

He further explained that it was at this time that his wife was introduced to the plans by the board of the hospital, headed by Chairman Kenny Benjamin, for a ward which would cost $150 million and that the funds raised by the concert would help to make it a reality.

“I said to her, that's it, but we have to do it publicly. It's a charity and that's not how charity run. At the end of the day when charity is being run, if we earmark something for ICU we can't just take it and buy beds, so we have to do it publicly,” he told the media.

Benjamin, who also spoke at the event, noted that the project will be a partnership with the Shaggy Make A Difference Foundation, West Indies Home Contractors, and the National Health Fund.

“For some reason the population of Jamaican children is expanding quicker than Bustamante. The Government obviously doesn't have enough resources to look at Bustamante in isolation. So we are very, very grateful to people like Shaggy who, since 2009, has been having concerts and donating very generously to the hospital,” Benjamin said.

“Shaggy, I know you had decided that what we needed at the time you had the concert two years ago was an ICU. Since then, what we really need is a lot more beds. In 2018 when the team visited, additional ICU bed capacity became known and as such, in consultation with the ICU team, they decided to build capacity in this area. We now find that we need much more bed capacity,” Benjamin added.

“As such, the Bustamante Hospital for Children continues to collaborate with other partners and now we have enough money to accomplish a three-storey ward with 150 additional beds. We might have some money left over to furnish not just the ward space, but also to expand the ICUs, which is also of concern,” said Benjamin.


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