By RIEL MAJOR
HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands highlighted yesterday a number of significant accomplishments achieved at Princess Margaret Hospital this year and project goals for the hospital in 2019.
Dr Sands said he was proud to highlight the important infrastructural work completed in 2018 but “privileged to forecast the significant projects which will be undertaken in the year to come.”
He said: “These works include the much-anticipated Accident and Emergency urgent care project which was launched in August this year. This complex multi-million-dollar undertaking will result in enhancements to the PMH Emergency Room waiting room, triage, asthma bay and treatment rooms here at the hospital.
“The project also includes upgrading the Elizabeth Estates Clinic and South Beach Clinic to urgent care centres for emergency triage levels three, four and five.”
The minister continued: “As amazing as the Emergency Department’s staff are, and as important as the improvements and renovations to the hospital’s Emergency Room will be, the most significant aspect of this project will be the expansion of urgent care services to Elizabeth Estates and South Beach Clinics.
“This aspect of the project not only facilitates an enhancement of access to care, but also allows for a reduction in demand for service at the already oversubscribed hospital emergency room.
“I am pleased to advise that early in the New Year we expect to launch significant renovations to Children’s Ward South. These improvements will not only improve the conditions and aesthetic of the clinical areas, but also will include the provision of a hospital school room, a tutorial room, and a day treatment room.”
Dr Sands said he is looking forward to progress being made on remedial works to the cafeteria’s roof, the relocation of the hospital’s business office to the old St Luke’s Chapel, improvement works to PMH’s laundry department and the renovation of doctors’ lounge. He said PMH’s dialysis department has been prioritised and the roof leak in the area is being addressed and further improvement works are expected next year.
This year, Dr Sands expressed his satisfaction of the completion of the Corey Newbold Ward, the completed upgrade in the Radiology Department, and the installation of new equipment.
He said: “Today I am pleased to report that all renovation works have been completed, and that the ward has been officially reopened to patients following a brief blessing and commissioning service on November 28. This will result in a least 25 medical/surgical beds reincorporated into circulation.
“I am also pleased to report that the initial phase of the PMH Radiology Department upgrade has been completed, and the department was commissioned back into service last month.
“The renovation of key areas within the department, the installation of digital x-ray equipment and a 64 slice CT machine, and the implementation of Picture Archive & Communication System or PACS has taken the radiology services provided to the Bahamian people to a new level.”
Dr Sands said the Patient Relations Department was relocated to the former registry office and the Oncology Clinic floor has been renovated.
The health minister said: “The Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department senior staff oversaw renovations to the hospital’s Labour Ward. The renovations included replacing the flooring, upgrading the Nurses’ Station, and enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the ward.
“The significance of the Labour Ward renovation is heightened as it will allow, in some cases, for a woman in delivery to be accompanied by her partner during childbirth; a privilege that, while helpful to mothers, was formerly only available to patients accessing private care.
“Another significant change has been the introduction of the maternity day assessment unit to assist with overcrowding on the labour ward. This allows for a space where mothers who may not be in labour, but are required to be assessed, can be facilitated… in the newly established unit.”
He spoke of the improvements made from the legacy entrance, inclusive of the remedial roof repairs damaged by hurricane Matthew. The hospital had issues with the air conditioning system delaying surgical procedures while work was conducted to make the system functional.
“I am pleased to report that, having prioritised work on the air condition system for the operating theatres, ICS, and the medical block; the A/C systems for (Critical Care Block) and the Medical Block have been repaired,” Dr Sands said.
His comments came during Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling’s annual visit to the hospital yesterday. In a brief address, Dame Marguerite said: “I consider it a privilege that I have once again been afforded the honour of cutting the ribbon at two important areas of the hospital, returning them to the service of the Bahamian people.
“This year, I am particularly happy to address the staff of the Princess Margaret Hospital, not only because it is part of this age-old yuletide tradition of an official visit, but rather because I am aware of just how much of an impact each one of you makes in the lives of your patients and their loved ones on a daily basis.
“Princess Margaret Hospital is the place where the vast majority of Bahamians are born, it is where so many us bring our loved ones when they are ill and injured, and it is often where we seek care as life comes to an end.”
She said despite the many challenges faced, this institution, and those who serve within it, have time and time again risen to the challenge when duty calls. She said the dedication to service above self was showcased on the national stage this year as hospital staff demonstrated expertise and compassion on so many levels during the tragedy of the Labour Day march and after a fatal Exuma boating accident.
She said: “I extend heartfelt appreciation for your heroism and selfless acts of courage, caring and clinical excellence.”
Robert Carron, PHA deputy chairman, welcomed Dame Marguerite and Dr Sands to the PMH.
Mr Carron said: “Your Excellency, many of us were stunned by the crumbling, dilapidated state of our public health infrastructure… which greeted our arrival in July, 2017. While I cannot imagine what it must have been like working under such challenging working conditions, those gathered here and other members of the PHA/PMH team not present unselfishly and tirelessly devoted themselves to the task of providing quality healthcare to those in need… To each and every one of you, we salute those efforts and deem them worthy of being called ‘Unsung Heroes’.”
People at all levels within the health service, he said, had “devoted considerable time and efforts in order to execute our Minister’s mandate to transform the delivery of healthcare in our Bahamaland and resolve years of ‘unconscionable neglect’.”
In the future, said Mr Carron, the health service would need to change a number of things.
“If we want to change the delivery of healthcare in our nation, we got to find the right person to paddle along beside us!” he said.
“…Sometimes no matter how well one prepares or performs we will not achieve that which we strive for. Life is unfair. But, as many here can attest, if we want to succeed then we must be at our best when all around us things are at their worst!
‘…If we want to change the world then we must never ever give up. Together, we can transform the delivery of healthcare in our nation and change the world!”