New type A hospital could be sited in Portmore
The older Spanish Town Hospital, a type B facility located in St. Catherine.

THE Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) is advertising on its website for a project manager for a new type A hospital to be constructed in the parish of St Catherine.

Dunstan Bryan, permanent secretary in the MOHW, said the exact location will be decided by Cabinet. He told the Jamaica Observer on November 21, 2022, "It's just at conceptualisation stage. We are still seeking a project manager. The timelines for development will depend upon several variables such as the decision on location, the design phase, tender, contracting, and other processes all of which can affect it [the timeline]."

He said that there was a possibility that the new hospital could be located in Portmore, but that decision would be made at the Cabinet level. Portmore is a community in Jamaica which houses a major proportion of the working population in the island and will soon see a further influx from the development of new residential and commercial areas in adjoining lands in Bernard Lodge.

Minister of Health Christopher Tufton told the Business Observer on Monday that the development will be funded by combined IDB loan, EU grant and GOJ funds amounting to approximately US$60 million. This will cover building, equipment and more, he stated.

The existing hospital in St Catherine, the Spanish Town Hospital, is a type B facility with older buildings. Tufton, who earlier announced the project for a new hospital in the parish, had explained, "Upgrading from a type B means more services, more facilities, more beds and, as a consequence, being better able to respond to the needs of the community."

Hospitals in Jamaica are classified as either type A, B or C. For a type B facility, there are restrictions in terms of specialist services provided.

Meanwhile, type A facilities provide comprehensive secondary and tertiary health-care services and are the final referral points for public and private hospitals. The Kingston Public Hospital and the Cornwall Regional Hospitals are examples of type A facilities in the island.

New project

To be done under the aegis of the South East Regional Health Authority, the project for the construction of the new hospital has been approved as a concept by the Public Investment Management Committee of the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service.

The project manager will be expected to have direct oversight for the organisation, planning, scheduling bidding processes and implementation of the project. The manager will also coordinate assignments, manage personnel, materials and equipment while, ensuring that all occupational health and safety standards are upheld throughout the programme phases.

The project description states that there is an urgent need for a new tertiary hospital within the parish of St Catherine in order to meet rising population demand, to decrease the high demand for services at the Kingston Public Hospital and provide quality and efficient health-care services.

It further outlines, "St Catherine represents 40 per cent of South East Regional Health Authority's population. According to the 2011 census, St Catherine has the highest rate of annual population growth of the whole country. Based on demand projections analysis, there is a shortage of beds in St Catherine."

"The current bed capacity in the parish [comprising the Spanish Town Hospital and Linstead hospital] is 458. It is projected that by 2021, 599 beds are required, and by 2031, 644 beds will be required. The problem of a shortage of beds in St Catherine is compounded by the fact that the infrastructure of the Spanish Town Hospital is very aged and has been recommended for replacement."

The advertisement for project manager said that under the general direction of the director of projects, MOHW, the manager will provide effective leadership in the development, coordination, promotion and articulation of plans related to the successful implementation of the St Catherine hospital.

It is noted that the Spanish Town Hospital with its 277 beds is now seeing inpatients of 430 on a given day. The hospital was significantly upgraded during the year and new equipment provided.

Cabinet will decide on the location of a new type A hospital in the parish of St Catherine..
Avia Collinder

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