DARLISTON, Westmoreland — THE deep rural district of Darliston is among four communities across the island where centres of excellence at the primary health care level will be established during this financial year.
According to Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson, some $25 million will be spent by the Government to undertake the construction of the first phase of the Darliston facility.
"Most of the work this year will be done in the curative section with the objective of moving unto the administrative section next year," he said.
He argued that the move to establish the centres of excellence is in keeping with the Government's declared position of improving health care at the primary level. He emphasised, however, that secondary health care would not be neglected.
"It is really an attempt to strengthen primary care — curative and preventative — while at the same time easing the pressure on our secondary care system to allow it to respond to some of the more technical areas and illnesses that we see in our hospitals," he argued.
The other centres are to be strategically located at the Isaac Barrant Health Centre in St Thomas, Claremont Health Centre in St Ann, and Santa Cruz Health Centre in St Elizabeth.
The centres are also designed to provide secondary health care services that in turn would give persons living in these communities an alternative to seeking medical care at a hospital.
"It is designed to create at the community level options for our people to prevent them from going to secondary care (our hospitals) by virtue of knowing that they can get the same quality care in their community," Dr Ferguson said.
The health minister was addressing health care workers at the Hotel Commingle in Westmoreland last Friday, following a tour of the Darliston Type Three Health Centre and the Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital in the parish.
The tour was to provide the minister with a first-hand experience of the challenges that are being faced at these two facilities, and to view the proposed site of the Darliston Centre of Excellence.
Meanwhile, the health minister said the $20-million refurbishing of the medical wards at the Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital should be completed by the end of this month.
"Our expectations are that it will be completed by the end of October and from discussions with the contractors, they seem to be on track with just a little painting and plumbing fixtures to be done, but they are well on their way," he explained.