Negril welcomes US$2.7-m private hospital

Observer West writer

Thursday, November 15, 2018

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NEGRIL, Westmoreland — Members of the Negril community have welcomed the planned construction of the US$2.7-million Omega Medical Ambulatory Care Centre in the resort town.

Ground was officially broken on Friday for the National Commercial Bank (NCB)-funded private medical centre, which is expected to open its doors to the public within the next 12 months.

The facility will form part of the Omega Medical Group of Companies, established by Jamaican-born doctor, Dale Foster, and his Barbadian wife, Sonja King Foster, who is also a doctor.

The company currently operates an ambulance service across sections of the island.

Dale has been practising as a doctor for over two decades in Negril, and his wife 15 years. They also operate a clinic in St James.

The 24-hour facility, when completed is to offer emergency care, overnight stay beds, surgical suites, wellness and aesthetics (anti-ageing clinic), pharmacy services, dentistry, X-rays, ultrasound, CAT (CT) scan, and an intervention radiology suite, which the developers say is to be the first of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean.

“We believe that with healthy communities, business will strive and we are aiming to have this institution internationally accredited, which will solidify not only its presence here, but Negril on the international market as not just the capital of casual, but also the capital of health and wellness,” stated Dr Dale Foster.

His wife explained to the Jamaica Observer West the need both her husband and herself saw for such a facility in the resort town.

“We noticed that, especially for the locals, that there needs to be a facility where in case you are ill in the middle of the night, at least if we are not able to fully hospitalise you, we will be able to stabilise you and have you sent off to wherever you need to go,” King Foster explained.

“In addition to that, we also think that we need to move Negril a little bit further into the 21st century. We have all these lovely hotels and we need the support services like health care to really enhance the environment in itself.”

Chairperson of the Negril Destination Assurance Council (DAC) Elaine Allen Bradley said the medical centre is a welcomed facility that will not only serve locals, but visitors alike to the island.

“This could open up a very different tourism field. I have got friends abroad who are not well. They are not young and they have asked me, 'if I come to Jamaica what is the health service like?' A lot of our age-group can afford to travel, but they have health restrictions. If they know that they are cared for when they come, they will be travelling with contentment. Because they know if any emergency arise, they have a facility that could stabilise them, diagnose them, and make them safe to fly back aboard to their home,” Allen Bradley argued.

President of the Negril Chamber of Commerce, Daniel Grizzle, who has long called for a hospital in the resort town of Negril, also embraced the decision to construct the facility.

He told the Observer West, however, that while having a private facility in Negril gives assurance to the tourism market, there is still a need for a public facility for locals who may not be able to afford health care at a private institution.

“As you know, we are trying to upgrade the local clinic (Negril Health Centre). One doesn't replace the other. This is a private investment, and naturally they have to charge. You still need to present something for the locals, because locals do get sick,” Grizzle argued.

NCB's Retail Banking Division Business Development Manager, Kanhai Skeen, a former branch manager of the bank's Negril location, said his institution continues to search the market for opportunities to play its part in nation building.

“We are always keen on nation building and, no such facility exists in Negril. This will be the first in Negril. So, of course, we want to be a part of that,” stated an upbeat Skeen.

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