Foundation to help needy access care at new Omega Medical Hospital
Omega Medical Hospital, a private facility in Negril. (Photos: Anthony Lewis)

NEGRIL, Westmoreland — Administrators of Negril's first multimillion-dollar private hospital are assuring the public that they are working on an initiative to alleviate fears that many people will not be able to afford the hospital's fees.

The assurance came during last Friday's soft opening of Omega Medical Hospital, where the issue of how costly it must have been to construct and equip the facility was also noted.

"It is hoped and expected that the cost will not be prohibitive and to include those who are marginalised and come in dire need of help but may not have a large purse," said custos of Westmoreland Rev Hartley Perrin.

Clinical coordinator for the Government-operated Western Regional Health Authority and guest speaker at the ceremony, Dr Delroy Fray, had similar concerns about accessibility of service.

"This thing is very costly — there is no question about it — so we have to facilitate that earning. But, there must be somewhere in this establishment that the poor and the needy will be able to be looked after," he said during his speech.

Dr Dale Foster, a Jamaican who established the hospital along with his Barbadian wife Dr Sonja King Foster, has stressed that while finances are important, "we don't want to be that institution that is first going to say, 'Can you pay?'"

Omega Medical Hospital's CEO Dr Dolton James said a foundation is being established, as a legally independent body, and those in need may use it as a vehicle through which to access care at the private facility.

"Anyone who needs access [to the hospital] will apply to the foundation. They will go there and they will set their own rules to say, 'I need to have this surgery or so, and here is the cost', and then apply to the foundation which will help them pay for the service," he explained.

Having worked in the US for more than 26 years, Dr James held up Omega as the yardstick for the standard of care Jamaicans should experience.

"They are not used to buildings like this so they have that thing in their head that, 'I do not deserve this. This can't be for me because this looks too clean, too pretty and too nice, so I should not be able to afford it.' But, I want everybody to understand that this is what a health-care facility should look like. This is what I am used to in the US. This is what everybody in Jamaica deserves," he said.

Omega Medical Hospital opened its doors to the public on December 1 of last year after receiving final approval from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

The 14-bed facility has a state-of-the-art operating theatre, radiology and X-ray departments, a laboratory and a pharmacy. It will provide primary to tertiary-level health-care services to communities in and around Negril. The first surgery was performed on January 19.

JAMES… the foundation will help them pay for the service
FRAY… there must be somewhere in this establishment that the poor and the needy will be able to be looked after
FOSTER… we don't want to be that institution that is first going to say, 'can you pay?'
Anthony Lewis

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