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New Chief Executive officer of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), Dr Dexter James (centre) speaking yesterday at a press conference at the Ministry of Health where it was revealed that a new hospital may be in the works. With him is Minister of Health Donville Inniss (right) and Chief Medical Officer for Communicable Diseases, Dr Anton Best.

 
   

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Plans for new hospital

10/21/2009

By Khalil Goodman

The Government of Barbados is embarking on the first steps towards a new hospital.

However, when the new general medical facility will begin construction – and where it will be located – is some way off.

Minister of Health Donville Inniss has indicated that the Ministry will now begin negotiations with consultants who will be engaged to look at the economic feasibility of a new hospital, possible sites for its location, as well to advise on what to do with the existing Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), this country’s main medical facility.

“The Ministry of Health recently proposed to Cabinet, and Cabinet agreed that the Ministry of Health should enter into negotiations with potential consultants for the purposes of one: conducting of a feasibility study of the construction of a new hospital on a green field (new) site,” said Minister Inniss.

The consultants have not yet been picked for the project said the Minister, but he noted that his Ministry has started to talk to potential applicants for the project noting that some
“expressed some interest.”

However, while he stated that the process “must start immediately”, it will have to go through the proper stages and he believed “it will take a few months to be completed”.

In any case when the project does begin, the project managers will have to “conduct appraisals of alternative sites and make recommendation on the most suitable site for a new general hospital”.

They will also have to “advise on cost estimates for construction of such a hospital [and] make recommendations on the financing models that are possible”.

The Minister noted that existing medical facilities are not going to be considered for the possible new hospital. The as yet unknown consultant team will also have to advise the Government on alternative uses of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

At present the QEH is undergoing a major re-capitalisation project as well as upgrading its electrical wiring. New CEO of the QEH Hospital, Dr Dexter James, said that whether there is a new hospital or not, this recapitalisation will not be in vain.

“We at the QEH are grappling with expansion issues. We cannot do more expansion in the hospital. We are undergoing a major capitalisation effort, but the effort is not about bricks and mortar, the effort is about replacing an old plant and replacing old equipment, which is subject to frequent maintenance.

“We feel satisfied [that] whichever way this consultancy goes, this recapitalisation effort will not be in vain as the equipment we are seeking to procure will be relatively new and can be moved wholesale into a new facility,” James said.

The CEO said the debate around the new hospital would only serve to enhance the nation’s health system.

“I am sure by the time that the report is put on the table there will be a lot of debate surrounding the essential package of services to be provided. Alternative financial modalities will be key. The new technologies that will be embraced in the public health system, and indeed what model of health care will Barbados embrace... There is going to be useful debate, which will inform what type of facility you do construct if the decision is to construct a new facility,” he observed.

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