MONTEGO BAY, St James — The National Health Fund (NHF) is providing some $42 million to upgrade three State-run health facilities across western Jamaica.
Contracts for the projects — the $20-million refurbishing of the kitchen at Cornwall Regional Hospital; the $8-million upgrade at the Mt Salem Health Centre and the $14-million expansion of the medical wards at Savanna-la-Mar General Hospital — were signed during a ceremony at the Cornwall Regional Hospital on Saturday.
Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson, in delivering the keynote address, underscored the need for modern, efficient kitchens at hospitals.
"The food that your patients receive is very important to their well-being and their recovery. Having a clean, sterile kitchen and developing standards are very important in how we go forward," he told the gathering.
Turning to the multimillion-dollar refurbishing of the medical wards at the Savanna-la-Mar General Hospital, Dr Ferguson pointed out that the record keeping system in the department is of grave concern.
He noted that there was a deficiency in record keeping at other State-run health facilities.
"We have to look into developing an electronic medical record system across the country in due course so that we all can become beneficiaries of a modern system," he said.
Meanwhile, the health minister noted that the Mount Salem Health Centre has seen a significant increase in patient load, especially between 2007 and 2010.
"Mount Salem Health Centre moved from 4,317 patients in 2007 to 42,716 patients in 2010," the minister noted.
As a result of the increase, he said, there was an urgent need for expansion of the waiting area, the registration area and the medical records system.
The projects, Dr Ferguson said, are expected to be completed by next March.