Dr Perry Gomez, Minister of Health.
By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Christie administration plans to spend $5m to hire around 200 medical professionals from the Bahamas and abroad to staff the Critical Care Block at the Princess Margaret Hospital, according to Public Hospitals Authority Managing Director Herbert Brown.
The Critical Care Block (CCB) had faced severe opening delays mainly due to staffing challenges.
Yesterday Health Minister Dr Perry Gomez announced major renovations to the Maternity Ward at Princess Margaret. There are plans to add an additional 18 to 20 beds to the existing 37. Two operating theatres will also be specifically dedicated to maternal care.
However, Dr Gomez could not place a value on the work because the project has not yet gone to tender and the architectural drawings have not been completed. It is anticipated that this will be finished by the end of May.
Dr Gomez said the work is in preparation for the implementation of National Health Insurance. The government plans to roll out the first phase in January 2016.
“The count of live births for fiscal year July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2014 totalled 3,729,” Dr Gomez said during a press conference at the CCB. “This number not only indicates the volume of the demand of hospital-based maternity care required, but also reflects on the need to enhance and improve the health outcomes of our maternal care services.
“The improvement of our maternal, delivery and newborn services, are among the highest priorities of the public health system. The expansion of the maternity ward reflects our commitment to achieving optimal maternity.”
Dr Gomez said the expansion of the Maternity Ward will entail the renovation of the former Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU), a step down unit for newborns discharged from Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), which has been relocated to the Critical Care Block.
The hospital’s main switchboard room has also been relocated which allows the renovation and repurposing of that space for the expansion of the Maternity Ward, Dr Gomez said.
He said the porch adjoining the hospital’s cafeteria will be enclosed and re-purposed as an additional delivery room/delivery theatre.
In total the renovation works will span 16,000 square feet of space currently occupied by the Gynaecological, Ante Natal, Post Natal and Labour Wards.
Mr Brown told reporters that the renovations were targeted at improving the quality of care.
“I think it is important to realise when we talk about upgrades that we are not just talking about increasing the number of beds but obviously we are talking about enhancing the standard and so to give you an example there is a standardised space that we must have between beds that is 10 ft. If you go into the Maternity Ward today you will discovery that we are far from that so that is one of the areas that we are bringing up to standard.”
He said officials intend to improve the standard to having no more than four patients in one unit.
The PHA has contracted the architectural firm The Design Group.
Dr Gomez said the company has prior experience with health infrastructure projects, and was chiefly involved in the design of the CCB.
Once the architectural drawings have been completed the project will go out to tender, he said.