September 1, 2016
PORT MARIA, St Mary:
Construction of a $5-million structure to temporarily house the Port Maria Health Centre in St Mary began last week, and according to the local health service’s parish manager, Nadia Nunes, the new building is set to drastically enhance the quality of care the town’s patients will receive.
The building that previously housed the health centre was written off some years ago and as a result, for almost two years, staff have been forced to deliver services from the Port Maria Hospital (PMH) and several containers located on that facility’s compound.
Speaking to The Gleaner last week, Nunes acknowledged the situation had caused patients to experience a somewhat disjointed service, but promised that things would improve upon completion of the new building in October.
She said: “The health centre is basically operating out of containers and a section of PMH, so the services are delivered in a splintered way, which is why it’s so urgent for us to do this temporary structure.
“But I hasten to say that in the next two to three years, a permanent structure for the Port Maria Health Centre will be done, just a little bit down the road, because we are also looking towards expanding PMH as well.
“The temporary building should be finished within the next six weeks and will feature six treatment rooms, a waiting area for patients, and a health records file room.
“It will make a significant difference because, at the moment, many of the clients complain about being wet when it rains and that the area is too hot. They are really exposed to the elements, which is inconvenient and discomforting.
“So really, what the North East Regional Health Authority are saying to patients and staff is: ‘We care about you so much that we are willing to invest this much money to ensure you are comfortable, even in the short-term until the permanent solution is in place’.”
Nunes, who worked as a chief executive officer at the hospitals in Clarendon and St Elizabeth in the past, claimed the reason executives had previously failed to develop a plan to upgrade the health centre was because they were undecided on the precise location of the new facility.
She explained: “The design for the permanent structure has been in the conceptual stage for some time, and so it’s taken a while for us to respond in an appropriate way. However, recognising that we really needed to expedite things we said, let us just move ahead.
“There was a plan, initially, to have the health centre on the hospital compound, but that comes with its own set of problems, because then it is difficult to separate health centre patients from hospital patients.
“It took us a while to identify a best fit, but we have now decided that instead of having everybody on the same grounds, the best solution is to have the health centre at the base of the compound, so patients who need to come to the hospital can come up the hill and do so.”