Tue | Apr 16, 2024

Tufton: 80 bed spaces to be created at Savanna-la-Mar Hospital

Published:Monday | November 13, 2023 | 12:06 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton (centre) grabs the attention of stakeholders in a discussion on what the entrance of the Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital will look like during a tour of the hospital on Thursday. Sharing in the disc
Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton (centre) grabs the attention of stakeholders in a discussion on what the entrance of the Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital will look like during a tour of the hospital on Thursday. Sharing in the discussion are (from left) councillor Ian Myles; deputy mayor of Savanna-la-Mar, Jamie James; newly appointed chairman of the Savanna-la-Mar management committee, Eric ‘Busha’ Clarke; chairman of the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA) and parish manager at the Westmoreland Health Services, Novlin Leslie Little.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has announced that approximately 80 additional bed spaces will be created at Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital, starting in the next financial year, which commences on April 1, 2024.

He said two additional floors will be erected on what was previously known as the COVID-19 ward, but is now being used as the outpatient ward.

The announcement comes in response to Savanna-la-Mar Mayor Bertel Moore, who last month urged action to improve the facility and safeguard the dignity of those who seek medical attention there.

“Firstly, we want to expand ward space, and we have mapped out an area that is linked to the previous COVID ward, which was a temporary structure, a tent, but the base was built with the intention of expanding and creating more ward space,” Tufton told reporters while on a tour of the hospital Thursday evening.

Guiding the ministry

He noted that the tour and the discussion were focused on guiding the ministry and the Western Regional Health Authority on how to best improve the infrastructure at the hospital in partnership with the new hospital management committee.

“So, the idea will be to add possibly two more floors, which will add another 70 to 80 beds, and the team here [at the hospital] will determine how those beds are portioned, but it will add significant capacity,” he said.

Continuing, the health and wellness minister said, “The hospital is now at 280; then if you add another 70 to 80, it’s a fairly good percentage increase, which will then cut down on the wait time for access to beds. That, to me, is going to be important.”

Further, the health minister noted that there will be a need to temporarily relocate the outpatient clinics to facilitate the construction phase of the additional wards, which he believes will be short.

“We had an arrangement before where they [outpatients] were located at Independence Park, and we have the councillors here, including the deputy mayor [Ian Myles]. We certainly will be engaging in conversation about trying to do that again for a temporary arrangement,” Tufton stated.

Now we are hoping that once we have the plan and break ground, it should last beyond a year,” the minister said of the plans to construct two additional floors at the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital.

Long overdue

Tufton said improvement on the infrastructure of the hospital building is long overdue and well needed, as the population has expanded and several critical infrastructures have deteriorated over time.

“And truthfully, we haven’t done as much as we would like to for the hospital infrastructure in the parish of Westmoreland,” he admitted, while sharing that a new management team under the leadership of Jamie James is in place and is willing and ready to lead the transformational process.

The hospital’s nursing service director and deputy mayor of Savanna-la-Mar have welcomed plans to increase the bed spaces at the hospital, noting that it will go a long way in alleviating the mental challenges patients face, including not being able to sleep comfortably and getting the required rest needed to recuperate from their illnesses.

“I am fascinated with the plans, [because] every day it hurts more and more to see your patients sitting up in a chair, standing up or leaning up somewhere, needing a bed or something more comfortable to wait until their time to be seen,” Hazelynn Forrester, Savanna-la-Mar Hospital’s director of nursing services, told The Gleaner.

“So, I can’t wait for the time to come, minister [Tufton], to see the new structures up with the additional beds,” she said.

“With the minister announcing that we are going to be seeing expansion and upgrades to this facility, that in itself has sent thrills through my body,” Myles said.

He shared with The Gleaner that he could not recall when last he saw the magnitude of expansion that was now being heard of, the aesthetic and improvement of the surrounding area, and the entrance that is to come.

“That is something good for Savanna-la-Mar, and I am sure the citizens can’t wait to see that come to fruition ... It will serve the parish well, loved ones can now feel more comfortable coming here or taking their loved ones here to get the necessary care that the doctors and all those who work here will deliver,” he added.