THE Spanish Town Hospital in St Catherine is to be upgraded to a Type A facility to better meet the needs of persons living in and around the parish, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has announced.
The announcement came during yesterday's official opening of the Queen Sofia of Spain Women's Centre at the hospital. An upgrade of the hospital from its current type B to type A ranking will put it in the same standing as the Kingston Public Hospital, one of the best equipped in the Caribbean.
"We need to have our hospitals as centres of excellence serving our Jamaican people, because Jamaica is more than a name, it is more than a brand, it is the pride of a people," the prime minister said.
Simpson Miller said that the capabilities of the hospital would be further improved through collaboration with the University Hospital of the West Indies and the University of the West Indies Faculty of Medical Sciences.
The prime minister, during her presentation, expressed gratitude to King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain, who — in addition to building the Women Centre at a cost of $30 million (£338,000) — had also opened up the King of Spain Wing at the hospital in 2009 to offer physiotherapy treatment to patients. The women's centre, meanwhile, offers a range of counselling, psychiatric as well as colposcopy services to assist with the early detection of cervical cancer.
Simpson Miller also acknowledged and thanked local philanthropist Ernest Hoo, who contributed $22 million to the hospital to build a Haemodialysis Centre in 2010.
"On behalf of a grateful nation, I say thank you very much," she said after asking him to stand.
Meantime, Chairman of the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) Lyttleton Shirley told the Jamaica Observer that the upgrade of the hospital could take place within the next two years with the support of corporate Jamaica and donations from bi-lateral agencies.
"To get a type A, we would have to have really an ICU unit (intensive care unit), we need additional theatres, we need staffing, we need other support services that we are working on, and those can only be achieved with the immediate expansion of the infrastructure," he said.
Yesterday, he sought pledges to upgrade the hospital, after unveiling a proposed plan to have a 100-bed facility with four theatres, a five-bed ICU and a 10-bed isolation ward.
"Despite the challenges, this hospital continues to be strident in its efforts to advance the level of health care...," the SERHA chairman said.