AN “exponential growth” in mental illness in the Bahamas – particularly depression – is expected over the next 20 years, Health Minsiter Dr Perry Gomez revealed.
He said this fact, along with the ever growing number of referrals from the courts and the longer life expectancy for Bahamians, shows the need for a comprehensive review of the methods employed at the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre.
Dr Gomez said the government will also consider the benefits of integrating mental health into its primary healthcare policy to address the needs of a quickly expanding and ageing population which is expected to place even greater demands on the resources of the SRC.
Despite the recent renovations and improvements to the facility, Dr Gomez said the government recognises the need for its further development and has committed itself to a fresh round of upgrades.
“We are acutely aware that there are not enough facilities or means to meet all of the needs that face our country at this present time,” he said. “The ever increasing demands for quality healthcare as well as the lofty expectations of internal and external clients, has placed a high demand on the existing staff and infrastructure at the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre.”
Dr Gomez said administrators, healthcare professionals and other staff at the facility “cannot continue with business as usual if we are to adequately address the growing demands on the services we offer.”
Of particular importance, the minister said, is that going forward, mental health treatment is provided during the early stages in an effort to decrease the number of cases admitted to the centre.
He said: “I am aware that, in conjunction with the National Insurance Board, steps have been taken to expand the current capacity and some of the services offered here through the building of the new Child and Adolescent and Robert Smith Complex.
“This soon to be commissioned building will go a long way in addressing some of the in-patient demands currently facing the institution.
“That said, however, we should only see it as a first step since the focus of the new model of care will be on treating clients, while allowing those who can to remain in their own homes or environment while at the same time offering them the required services in the form of the recently referenced Patient Community Resource Centre and expanded services at the primary care level and future home health services.”
Dr Gomez added that upgrades to the wards and facilities of SRC’s Geriatric Hospital will “go a long way in ensuring that our patients are not only given the best quality services, but that the services that are provided are given in an environment that is conducive to their needs.
“These renewed wards are all a part of the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre’s effort to reinvigorate the environment for both its staff and clients with a view to positively impacting care. It is envisioned that the renewal process will continue for both geriatric and psychiatric hospitals.”
Dr Gomez’s remarks came while accompanying Governor-General Sir Arthur Foulkes and Lady Foulkes, on their annual visit to Sandilands.
The minister applauded administrators and staff for the work they have done and continue to for the patients in their charge, but said changing times will demand even more of them.
“We all know that there continues to be a tremendous demand being placed on our healthcare workers throughout the sector. My government recognises this and thanks you for your continued marvellous contribution to national development as you repeatedly go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that our people’s needs are met,” Dr Gomez said.