With almost one million dollars expended in the retrofitting of Princess Alice Hospital, the facility is now fully equipped to handle emergencies in the case of an occurrence of a natural disaster in the northern section of the island.
Funded by UK Aid, the Mirabeau-based hospital is the first hospital in Grenada to be retrofitted under the Smart Health Care Facility in the Eastern Caribbean and the first facility in Grenada to be designated a Smart Health Care Facility.
A ceremony was held recently on the grounds of the hospital for the historic occasion which is aimed at providing citizens access to safer, greener health facilities and to ensure care is available in times of disaster.
The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) provided hands on support to the initiative through a consultant, Shalini Jagnarine who served as the Structural Engineer during the retrofitting stage of the work at the hospital.
According to Jagnarine, the initial assessment done at Mirabeau showed that “many necessary interventions were required to ensure that this facility could remain functional in the event of a hazard such as hurricanes and earthquakes or fire”.
She stated that many interventions had that to be implemented in order to ensure that Princess Alice was climate ready.
“…In our retrofit, we tried to address the most urgent needs – these included equipment for the structural safety…hurricane shutters, upgrade of the electrical distribution system which improves efficiency but also reduce the risk of fires”, she said.
“A lot of the money that was spent on this facility, you will not see today because Grenada, Princess Alice now has underground electrical, so this means that the risk in a hurricane is much reduced”, she added.
The PAHO Consultant disclosed that the water distribution system was upgraded “for efficiency and to increase the affection control measures of the facility”.
“We increased water storage capacity such that if there is a disaster, the facility has adequate water supply for at least three days”, she told the brief ceremony.
“We installed a new generator and increased diesel fuel storage …we improved the disabled access to the facility…,” she said.
Minister of Health, Nickolas Steele who was in attendance for the handing over of the facility, declared that Princess Alice Hospital is now a flagship health care facility in Grenada.
He said the primary goal of the project was not just to focus on the physical retrofitting works but to ensure that “we are contributing to a safer, healthier, greener community throughout the Caribbean”.
The Minister pointed out that due to its location, Princess Alice hospital is vulnerable to natural hazards like earthquakes, hurricanes and volcanic eruption.
He said: “This hospital is also important due to its location which provides services to a significantly large catchment area in the parishes of St. Patrick, St. John and St. Andrew and St. David as well.
“It is therefore critical that this facility is open to provide care in the event of a disaster and access to the General Hospital to where access to the General Hospital may be cut off. Given the vulnerabilities and the community served, the investment in this facility is indeed justified and Princess Alice hospital is now a flagship smart health care facility in Grenada,” he added.
Director of PAHO, Carissa Ettienne stressed that the training of staff is a must to ensure that the facility is able to function at its best.
“It is not enough to just have a Smart hospital. Building resilience in our health sector also requires that the staff themselves become more aware of what their role is”, she said.
“Building a resilient health system also means that our staff must be committed to the highest quality level of care and to highest efficiency. You must be able to provide health care of such a standard to your people that they can be healthy and well but that you have the ability to scale up when a disaster occurs”, she added.
Ettienne went on: “You need to have the ability to detect early signs of emergence of infectious diseases. We must make the facility smart but that we must also equip staff to ensure that they can deliver high quality at a sustained level and have the ability to scale up that”.