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Health Minister announces: $2b to be spent on boosting 3 hospitals

Published: 
Friday, August 15, 2014

Increased numbers of foreign doctors and nurses, hospital beds and specialist centres are expected soon, Health Minister Fuad Khan said as he announced approvals for almost $2 billion in budgets for the health sector. In a post-Cabinet press conference yesterday, at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair, Khan announced that Cabinet had approved two health projects.

The first, a $65 million extended-care unit, is set to be built at the Sangre Grande Hospital while the hospital continues to be expanded through construction. Khan said the unit would improve the physical infrastructure and equipment at the hospital. The unit will include a building with 32 additional beds, including 16 for oncology and 16 for orthopaedics, new clinical areas for oncology, a digital X-ray unit, treatment rooms, conference rooms and a waiting area for 50 people as well as the doctors’ lounge for the entire hospital. “We do hope to start construction early in September as the tendering process has already taken place,” Khan said.

Khan admitted that development of the Sangre Grande Hospital had taken some time but said the ministry was looking at improving designs for a state-of-the-art hospital. In addition to the extended-care unit, Khan also announced that a $107 million state-of-the-art diagnostic centre also would be built at the hospital. “The imaging volume for patients at the regional health facilities has increased significantly,” he said. He said regional authorities did not have enough equipment, such as MRI machines and CT scans, to serve the large volume of patients. “It is a bit perturbing that the North West Regional Health Authority which services close to 800,000 people are serviced by one CT scanner and no MRIs,” he said.

The biggest budget announced by Khan went to the $1.8 billion Arima Hospital. Khan said: “You would have been hearing th ministry speaking about the Arima Hospital for quite a while but now it’s on its way with the approval of the project budget. “In that hospital one would have general medicine, general surgery, acute psychiatry, orthopaedic, intensive care, accident and emergency and other services.” He expected the sod-turning for the Arima Hospital to take place in the first week of next month.

The 100-bed Point Fortin Hospital also received budget approvals and an Australian contractor had already been chosen as part of a government-to-government loan agreement with that country. “With all these hospitals being built, one has to think about the human resource factor and we are looking at bringing nurses, doctors and specialists from different parts of the world,” he said. Khan recently announced the arrival of a team of ten specialists from China.

Yesterday he announced the Health Ministry was sourcing 50 nurses from St Lucia and would be bringing in additional nurses from Cuba and specialists from other countries. He said the ministry was formulating a new manpower plan which would use the over 3,000 nurses studying under the Ministry of Tertiary Education.

More Info: The Ministry of Education has received $200 million in additional funding from the Ministry of Finance to make outstanding payments to contractors. Gopeesingh said that at a post-Cabinet press conference yesterday afternoon at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair. The funding was sourced through a bond issue from the Central Bank.