As the Tillman Thomas Government prepares to move head with plans to build a new hospital for the island, Health Minister, Senator Ann Peters has spoken about some of the main problems being experienced at the St. George’s General Hospital.
Sen. Peters who was a guest on the programme, “Sundays With George Grant” said while plans are afoot to build a new hospital, there are serious structural problems with the existing facility.
She cited for instance the almost one and a half years which it took the Ministry of Health to have the air-conditioning unit fixed at the hospital.
According to Sen. Peters, the AC unit is not a model with a brand name that would enables engineers to immediately lay their hands on a spare part.
“It seems to have been a unit that has been custom made for our institution, and now that it has problems, we have significant problems finding the replacement parts. I am happy to report that finally we have been able to address the issue,” she said.
A similar problem had existed with the elevator at the hospital, and according to Sen. Peters, in collaboration with the Cuban Government, engineers have been trained to enable them to reconfigure things as they happen.
Sen. Peters said the Ministry of Health has also had to relocate the male ward to the building that once housed the School of Nursing due to structural problems.
“All of these adjustments and readjustments cost significant sums of monies to the health sector, so that is why it is not unusual for me… to go back to the Cabinet over and over to get funding that we had not budgeted for,” she remarked.
The female government minister reminded the host of the programme that government knew it had to build a new hospital due to reports that were submitted by the Pan American Health Organisation about the current location.
She said the new hospital earmarked for Calivigny, St. George’s would be of international standards.
Sen. Peters said special attention would be paid to the Accident and Emergency (A and E) Department of the new facility.
There would be a bay area with trolleys, a resuscitation bay, an observation bay, and a plaster room to facilitate the volume of people seeking attention at the A and E Department.
Sen. Peters disclosed that the current department at the General Hospital treated 35,000 persons last year.
The Senior Government Minister said the infrastructural needs of the health sector do not only lie within the General Hospital.
Subsidiary institutions including Princess Alice Hospital at Mirabeau, St. Andrew’s, Princess Royal Hospital in Carriacou, Mt. Gay Mental Hospital, 36 medical stations, and six health centres are crying out for attention.
Sen. Peters said the infrastructural needs are significant, and every single area needs help.
She said when the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) took office four years ago, it faced a number of challenges with some of the medical stations and health centres.
The Health Minister said refurbishment work had to be done in Carriacou, and Union, St. Mark’s.
In addition, a building was purchased in Grand Anse, St. George’s which has been remodeled and is now operating as the health centre.
That facility offers a doctor’s clinic, a nurses’ clinic, dentistry, and pharmacy service.
Government is now in search for a partner to assist with the funding for the Gouyave Health Centre.
Sen. Peters said due to the state of the physical structure, it was demolished and at present a number of services that were once provided at the health centre is now relocated to different areas of the Parish.
Sen. Peters said dignity and privacy have been brought to the residents at the Richmond Home with the installation of cubicles.
Just last week, the Ministry of Health received harsh criticisms in a call-in programme on the AM Division of the Grenada Broadcasting Network (GBN) in a show hosted by Godfrey Augustine when it was revealed that the elderly are finding difficulty in obtaining medication.
In response to the charge, Sen. Peters noted that through her ministry there is a necessitous programme where many persons requiring a particular medication would receive it through the Social Welfare Department.
The minister also said there is a policy for persons over the age of 65 to get all of their prescription filled at public facilities without any cost.
Sen. Peters mentioned the existence of a protocol for doctors to give priority to the elderly whenever they visit the clinics.
She also said government provides a subvention to a number of senior citizens’ Homes in the country.