In October last year we had reason to commend Dr Ernest Madu on the planned multimillion-dollar expansion of his Heart Institute of the Caribbean (HIC) into an international heart and multi-specialty hospital that will model the likes of the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic in the United States.
Dr Madu had told us that the new hospital is estimated to cost between US$35 million and US$50 million and will be built in Kingston. It will provide 75 beds, with 50 dedicated to heart and vascular disease patients. The remaining 25 will be dedicated to other specialty areas.
In addition to hailing Dr Madu's investment and commitment to ensuring affordable health care to more Jamaicans, we had urged the Government to model his forward-thinking plan and expand the island's public medical infrastructure.
The argument we had put forward was that, in doing so, the Government would give the country the ability to respond to any future epidemic or pandemic, while improving public health facilities for other patients.
We haven't seen or heard any response to that suggestion from the State. We, however, remain hopeful.
But while we await the Administration's road to Damascus moment, we note with great anticipation a $2-billion investment in a private hospital being built in Portmore, St Catherine, by Dr Alfred Dawes and his colleagues Dr Mark Taylor, Dr Pierre Williams, Dr Ryan Halsall, and Dr Leighton Maddan.
Carivia General Hospital, as the facility is named, is located at Cookson Pen, Braeton. It will feature 23 private beds, six of which will be in high-dependency units; three operating theatres; a full radiology suite; 24-hour accident and emergency department; a pharmacy; as well as consultation rooms for various medical and surgical specialities.
Dr Dawes, medical chief of staff and director of Carivia General, told this newspaper that the vision is to bring First World private care within the reach, both geographically and financially, of the average Jamaican, not just in Portmore.
He and his partners, he said, have invested heavily in technology, and will be pricing their services at very attractive rates as they are well aware of the "very large and wide gap between those who can afford private care, which is very expensive, and those who cannot get to that level, even if they have something to pay and are therefore forced to use the public health system".
That, he noted, has led to overcrowding of the public health system and frustration among people who can't afford to pay to expedite their treatment and get access to better care.
We commend Dr Dawes and his partners on this investment as they have done what successive governments have failed to do.
Two parliamentarians — Mr Fitz Jackson, who represents St Catherine Southern, and Dr Andrew Wheatley, the representative for St Catherine South Central — have welcomed the new hospital and revealed that previous talks to construct a public hospital in the municipality had encountered investment difficulties.
While we are not privy to the details of those discussions and the circumstances that created those difficulties, we can't help but believe that the previous attempts by the State lacked the will to get this done.
Dr Wheatley has stated that the Government is still intent on building a public hospital in Portmore. We will hold the applause until that is done.
Meanwhile, we wish Dr Dawes and his colleagues all the best.