The South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) has commenced the redevelopment of the Princess Margaret Hospital in St Thomas, beginning with the long-awaited fencing of the facility.
Chairman of SERHA Lyttleton Shirley said the fencing of the facility is just one of several components of the programme in the pipeline for the hospital, with plans already advanced to refurbish and expand the Accident and Emergency Department.
A Haematology Unit was recently purchased and installed, while funding has been approved for the purchasing of a brand new X-ray unit to replace the existing unit. Plans are also underway for the expansion and upgrading of the diagnostic services.
"The upgrading of the operating theatre is also on our priority list," Shirley said, adding that "most importantly, for our environment however, is the upgrading of the sewerage system ... and I am pleased to say that funding has been approved to build a new sewerage system for the Princess Margaret Hospital."
Meanwhile, Shirley said the perimeter fencing project will take place in two phases. Phase one, which began last week, will see the erection of fencing along the front entrance and east side of the grounds, which is seen as being the most vulnerable as it relates to securing the campus.
The project is being funded by the National Health Fund to the tune of $13.6 Million and will see over 1,200 metres of chain-link fencing being installed. Phase two will commence in the coming months as funding is expected to be approved in short order.
"Securing members of staff and patients is one of the highest priorities for both the Ministry of Health and SERHA," Shirley said as he addressed the groundbreaking ceremony for the erection of the perimeter fencing at the facility last week.
He explained further that the need for comprehensive security measures had become even more urgent following a recent incident at the May Pen Hospital where a patient was murdered during a brazen attack.
"The Princess Margaret Hospital is no stranger to being a target for criminal elements. Gunmen broke into the hospital in 2009, robbing and traumatising both staff and patients," Shirley noted.
The redevelopment of the Princess Margaret hospital, Shirley said, is high on the agenda of both the minister of health and SERHA.
"I know members of staff would have already started to experience the transformation of the hospital, as promised by the minister of health. The painting of the campus, as you would have seen, is a work in progress. The repairs to the roofs have already been completed," he said.
In addition, Shirley said there is a growing demand for health-care services at the hospital, hence SERHA's increased efforts to ensure that patients can receive the required treatment and care, in a safe and comfortable environment.
Last year more than 34,000 patients visited the Accident and Emergency Department at the facility, while 1,344 surgeries were performed. Additionally, close to 300,000 patients accessed diagnostic services.