Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Shahine Robinson, is appealing to residents of St. Ann to make greater use of the community health centres in order to reduce overcrowding at the hospitals.
She noted that the clinics provide quality care, and doctors at the facilities will refer persons to a hospital for advanced treatment if needed.
“There are times you will go to the hospital and see these long lines and also a crowded waiting area, while at the same time there is nobody at the clinic. Now, a lot of those persons waiting at the hospital could have been treated at the clinic and be sent home. We have to be smart in what we do,” she said.
Mrs. Robinson was addressing the opening of three patient waiting areas at the St. Ann’s Bay Health Centre on November 25.
The waiting areas were provided as part of the Ministry of Health’s drive to reduce the waiting time for patients at health facilities across the island.
“I can truly say that in one of the first Cabinet meetings that we had (Portfolio Minister) Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton spoke about the problem of the long waiting hours in hospitals and clinics… it was his number-one concern.
“He stressed that something had to be done in the short term to reduce the time persons have to spend waiting to be seen by doctors,” she said.
She noted that funding has been provided to the regional health authorities to implement the necessary measures to ensure that patients are seen speedily and are given the best care possible.
“Health care is very important and we are doing everything we can to ensure our patients are taken care of. We also did an opening of additional facilities in Port Maria and also Cascade in Portland,” she indicated.
Mrs. Robinson, who is also the Member of Parliament for North East St. Ann, noted that “the medical personnel at the clinics are well trained to make the determination as to whether a patient would be better served going to the hospital, and should be trusted to exercise that judgement”.
For his part, Chairman of the North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA), Tyrone Robinson, said the provision of the additional spaces at the St. Ann’s Bay Health Centre will enable the facility to treat more patients.
He pointed out that the St. Ann’s Bay Hospital sees and treats in excess of 3,000 patients at its accident and emergency outpatient department, many of whom can be cared for at the health centre and in a shorter period of time.