About $300 million has been spent on upgrading work at the St. Ann’s Bay Regional Hospital, in St. Ann, over the last several years, enabling the facility to be on track of becoming one of the finest health care facilities in the region.
Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, not only sees the St. Ann’s Bay Regional Hospital as a “clear example of what can happen whenever private and public entities come together,” but also as “a top class facility which is functioning like any Type-A hospital in the country.”
“What is clear is that St. Ann’s Bay Regional is providing quality health care for the people of St. Ann and many other communities,” Dr. Tufton tells JIS News.
“This hospital is a type-B with 304 beds. It literally serves three other parishes and a few adjoining ones. It also serves the primary health care system in those parishes…some 70 health centres and a population of some 350,000 to 400,000 citizens,” he adds.
Dr. Tufton says the demand in terms of traffic passing through the hospital is even more intense, considering the tourism factor and the St. Ann’s Bay Regional being so centrally located within close proximity to the resort town of Ocho Rios.
“If you live in Jamaica you will obviously traverse this area at some point. If you are a hotelier it is a nice thing to know that there is a facility of this quality in the event any of your guests should have a need to go to the hospital,” he tells JIS News.
The St. Ann’s Bay Regional has also earned accreditation for undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and is a training facility for both interns and nurses.
The facility has formed a very strong bond with a number of corporate and private entities which have spent a considerable amount of money to bring the hospital to a level seen nowhere else on the island’s northern coast.
Over the past several years, private organizations, such as the Issa Trust Foundation and others have pumped millions into upgrading of the facility, including a recent renovation of the facility’s paediatric ward.
Dr. Tufton notes that the hospital serves as the main trauma centre for the busy high-speed highway serving the North Coast.
“It is also the referral hospital for the three general hospitals and 70 health centres located in Portland, St. Mary and St. Ann,” he adds.
Dr. Tufton points out that the hospital’s female medical ward has been upgraded through public-private partnership at a cost of $136 million.
In the meantime, Regional Director for the North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA), Fabia Lamm, tells JIS News that one of her proudest moments is to see the transformation of the male surgical ward at the hospital.
“One had to see it before to appreciate what it looks like today. We all know the problems that were there – leaking roof, poor infrastructure and poor aesthetics. It is now totally transformed and for that we have to give a ‘big shout out’ to the organization, American Friends of Jamaica. This would not have been possible without their assistance,” she says.
For his part, Chairman of NERHA, Tyrone Robinson, says it is a joy to see the improvement in customer service at the hospital, calling it “a lot more visitor friendly.”
He adds that the waiting time to see a doctor has also been drastically reduced, noting that they have spent $2 million to purchase 100 agronomic patient waiting chairs, “to improve the aesthetics and comfort of the out-patient area.”
The hospital’s Chairman, Michael Belnavis, says “these are the best of times at the St. Ann’s Bay Regional Hospital.”
“Staff moral is very high and our patients are being treated in an environment that is first class and probably second to none here in this country.”