Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, has officially opened a new multi-million dollar state-of-the-art Paediatric Cardiac Centre at the Bustamante Hospital for Children.
The centre currently offers treatment and surgeries for children living with congenital heart defects. It is the only one of its kind in Jamaica, and it is complete with a 10-bed intensive care unit and a state-of-the-art biplane catheterisation lab.
The opening ceremony for the facility took place on Monday (April 15), on the grounds of the hospital, in Kingston.
Dr. Tufton said the centre will make a major difference in the lives of children who suffer from congenital heart defects.
“We have a responsibility to the next generation, and this demonstrates our commitment to carrying out that responsibility. There are about 400 or so children who are born in Jamaica with congenital heart-related diseases. Of that number, some 200 require some sort of surgical intervention. We have a waiting list of close to 200 currently in the country, so this facility is a response to that,” the Minister said.
He said one major goal within the first year after the official opening is to deliver a minimum of 100 heart surgeries inside the facility.
“We’re going to be building that up until we get to the stage where we can satisfy the demand [for heart surgeries] that exist,” he added.
He also thanked the donors: Shaggy Make a Difference, Digicel Group, Digicel Foundation, Chain of Hope, Sagicor Group Jamaica, Rotary Club, National Health Fund and individual donors, for contributions they have made to the construction and equipment.
“Their contribution on this journey is unquestionable. In fact, we wouldn’t be here without them,” the Minister said.
He also noted that the Government and donors are currently paying the cost for the surgeries, which can cost families approximately US$5,500 for surgery for children or US$2,000 for other procedures that are offered at the paediatric cardiac centre.
“We don’t charge for surgeries currently. We’re asking for contributions, because that’s what it costs us and our partners,” Dr. Tufton said.
He said the Ministry of Health will continue to put strategies in place that prevent children from suffering from congenital heart defects.
“It’s in keeping with our thrust to not only push prevention, but there are so many cases when prevention is not sufficient. In this instance, our young kids who are born with these conditions need curative measures, and we have a duty to provide that,” the Minister said.