Princess Margaret Hospital gets state-of-the-art digital X-ray unit
THE Princess Margaret Hospital in St Thomas now boasts a state-of-the-art digital X-ray unit, which will increase its capacity to provide quick and efficient diagnostic services.
The XR 6000 digital X-ray unit, which was purchased at a cost of $12.6 million through funding by the National Health Fund (NHF), was officially commissioned into service on Thursday during a ceremony held on the hospital grounds.
Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson said he is happy that the hospital is "setting the tone" for improved diagnostic services for citizens, adding that the X-ray machine "is about the finest in the public sector".
"This new machine will bring to the fore the opportunity for faster throughput, more patients coming through, timely response, which means shorter time for diagnosis, and definitive diagnosis," he said.
The minister stated that the Government is committed to improving the secondary care infrastructure while strengthening primary health care. This is consistent with the Government's 2013/14 strategic priority focus on human capital development.
Dr Ferguson said he was pleased that the unit eliminates the need for the use of a processor to develop the images and so it decreases the turnaround time.
"It also allows physicians to access the images remotely. That is important because once you can remotely access the images it means that it is easy to get a second opinion, not just in Jamaica but any part of the globe. And this is why once you start to put this kind of infrastructure in place, you begin to establish a platform for tele-medicine, a platform for all the kinds of modern medicine that our people deserve," he stated.
Expressing gratitude for the unit, Chief Executive Officer of the hospital Colleen Wright said the new machine is "like a blessing to us" noting that the previous unit, which also served Port Antonio in Portland, broke down frequently, and patients were inconvenienced by having to go into Kingston to access X-ray services.
In his remarks, Chairman of the South East Regional Health Authority Lyttleton Shirley noted that last year, approximately 8,000 X-rays were done at the hospital, which, he said, is a true testament of the demand for this service.
"I have no doubt that the new state-of-the-art unit, which is the first of its kind in the South East region, will go a long way in providing improved X-ray services to the residents of S. Thomas and I am particularly pleased that the unit will not only increase the turnaround time for images but it will also allow for images to be accessed remotely," he said.
For his part, Chairman of the NHF Sterling Soares said the Princess Margaret Hospital is one of the many health entities to benefit from the fund's institutional benefits programme. He said the project started in late August, and involved the upgrading of the X-ray department to accommodate the unit.
The renovation, which cost $8.3 million, included the upgrading of electrical works, networking, civil works, installation of air conditioning, and installation of radiation protection.
Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson (seated) listens intently while Chief Radiographer at the Princess Margaret Hospital Leesa Sharpe explains how the imaging aspect of the institution's new state-of-the-art digital X-ray unit functions. Others looking on are CEO of the hospital Colleen Wright (left) and Chairman of the South East Regional Health Authority Lyttleton Shirley.