Minister of Health the Hon. Dr. Duane Sands said the country’s healthcare system is faced with aged health facilities that were built in the 1980s and have experienced significant natural disasters, as many are close to the coast and vulnerable to environmental hazards. “We must continually repair to maintain services at our facilities.” Dr. Sands said during his Contribution to the Mid-term Budget Debate in the House of Assembly, Monday, March 12, 2018. He said the current outstanding projected infrastructure cost for improvement on community clinics approximates some $46,580,000. “I am pleased to report that the West End Community Clinic opened late last year.” Dr. Sands explained that this government administration came into office with the side opposite having promised the world in terms of repairs and refurbishment of the healthcare facilities throughout the archipelago. “We are unable to fund the proposed infrastructure improvements in our clinics as there was no money. Hence, we have had to put many infrastructural projects on hold as the staff work assiduously to ensure our people are cared for in a safe environment.”
He said limited capital development work continues at healthcare institutions. By mid-April, the Corey Newbold Ward in the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) will be re-opened following a complete renovation programme to the 40-bed ward. This will reduce the protracted wait times for admissions and theatre services. The Health Minister said that plans are also underway for the redevelopment of the East Wing block of PMH to reduce the shortages of public ward beds and renovate/upgrade relevant areas for improved access and environments of care for public patients. Key public patient areas to be addressed are Eye Ward, Maternity Ward, Children’s Ward, and Male Surgical Wards. The consolidation, renovation, and upgrade of all Private Services to one area of the hospital are also planned with a view to improving opportunities for revenue generation for the public health authority. He said, “I am very pleased to report that my Ministry has initiated an Emergency and Urgent Care Services project. “The overall goal of this important project is to improve my Ministry’s response to the critical needs of residents in New Providence for emergency and urgent care. This multifaceted project will, on the one end, address non-life threatening/urgent care treatment in the community clinics; and on the other end, focus on the Accident & Emergency Department to ensure true emergencies are better accommodated and managed for timely and quality care.”
The urgent care component of this project will begin at the South Beach Health Centre and the Elizabeth Estates Clinic. The project seeks to improve workflows, policies and procedures, information management, customer service, staffing, and availability of services to the population. More specifically, the project will seek to decompress A&E Department and reduce wait times, overcrowding and upgrade the patient care environment. Dr. Sands said the renovation and upgrading of the A&E Department at PMH are specifically targeted with emphasis on decanting planning to minimize interruptions to essential services. It is anticipated that the phased renovation will span 12-14 months once initiated. The Health Minister said, “The Infrastructure Working Group continues to work to establish realistic timelines and budgets for each phase, inclusive of equipment and furniture needs. We are eagerly looking to fast-track the process to begin works within a three-month timeframe.”
Plans for the Rand Memorial Hospital
He noted that at the Rand Memorial Hospital, funds have been identified to execute the upgrading and expansion of much needed clinical space.
This will be achieved following the relocation of the Kitchen and Cafeteria to the property adjacent to the Rand Memorial (former Island Palm Hotel).
A connecting corridor is being constructed between the two properties that will also accommodate physician offices, on-call rooms; and relocated Security and Telephone Services. Additionally, the General Practice and CNCD Clinics are being relocated to the IAT Building (a rented facility) located opposite the Rand Hospital.
He said, “This additional clinical space affords the opportunity to extend the hours of operation for these services from 8:00 a.m. to midnight and institute a patient appointment system.
“This ultimately will improve patient access, satisfaction and reduce wait times. This move will also afford the desired result of better responding to the critical needs in the Accident & Emergency Department at this hospital.”
Plans for Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre
Dr. Sands said at Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, renovation of the now vacant Child & Adolescent Ward to establish a new Forensic Psychiatry service is expected to meet the current and immediate future needs of this high-risk patient population.
He said, “Historically, 90 percent of forensic psychiatry patients are referred from the courts and the remaining 10 percent are transferred from the Bahamas Correctional Services Department. “Presently, all patients are admitted to SRC’s New Eloise Penn Ward, resulting in severe overcrowding. In the outpatient setting, community forensic services are offered at the Community Counseling & Assessment Centre (CCAC) in a rather limited capacity.”