Japan's Government gifts ambulance to Mandeville hospital
Chief executive officer at the Mandeville Regional Hospital Alwyn Miller (left), Minister of Health and Welness Dr Christopher Tufton (right) and Ambassador of Japan to Jamaica Masaya Fujiwara examine in the new ambulance yesterday. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

Chief executive officer of the Mandeville Regional Hospital Alwyn Miller is lauding the Japanese Government for its decision to provide funding for an ambulance to meet the travel needs of patients.

“We are elated and very grateful to the Embassy of Japan in Jamaica and their Government for considering our hospital to be a beneficiary of this ambulance. We certainly seek to partner with as many persons as we are able to and who are able to help us, and the Government of Japan has been very generous in offering this ambulance to us and we are grateful that it is now here today,” Miller told the Jamaica Observer during the handover of the ambulance in Kingston on Monday.

According to Miller, the ambulance will help significantly with the daily operations of the hospital, as the facility had only three vehicles to transport patients to other health facilities, such as Kingston Public Hospital and Cornwall Regional Hospital, for further medical treatment.

“Certainly there is always the need for ambulances because we transfer patients not only within the parish, but also outside of the parish, and for diagnostic procedures. We also transport patients between ourselves and the private diagnostic centre that does CT [computerised tomography] scan and MRIs [magnetic resonance imaging],” he explained.

“It will also help in terms of improving even our maintenance of the vehicles because each time you have to take a vehicle out for maintenance, we are down by that vehicle,” Miller added.

The ambulance was procured under the Government of Japan's Grant Assistance for Grass-roots Human Security Project at a cost of US$84,158.

Ambassador of Japan to Jamaica Masaya Fujiwara said he was pleased that the additional medical cooperation will enable the health facility to provide better quality health care.

“The current pandemic, which is having an enormous impact on our health systems, issues the call for global solidarity. Japan is delighted to extend our support to improve Jamaica's response capabilities in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Enhancing universal health coverage is Japan's priority,” said Fujiwara.

In January, a grant agreement was signed with the health facility for the ambulance as a way of boosting Jamaica's COVID-19 response mechanism.

But, on Monday, Miller said the Manchester-based hospital has seen a decrease in the number of COVID-19 patients.

“Generally the numbers have been coming down. At the peak of it during August we had in excess of 150 COVID-19 suspected and positive patients. As of last week we were in the 20s, so that's a significant decline and we are grateful because, as I have always said to people, I don't want to meet you sick, I want to meet you well,” said Miller.“I think it reduces the pressure on the staff in particular when the numbers are down.”

He urged Jamaicans to continue following the COVID-19 safety protocols and to get vaccinated.

“I would like to echo the statement from the Ministry of Health. It is very important for persons to follow the established standards to ensure that we do not cause another spread, particularly approaching Christmas and new year. That is a concern for many of us in the sector and we encourage persons to get vaccinated. It is very important to keep the numbers down and we continue to send that message,” said Miller.

BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON Staff reporter hutchinsonb@jamaicaobserver.com

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