PRESS RELEASE – The Ministry of Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relations through the technical assistance of the Pan American Health Agency (PAHO) recently conducted a Smart Hospital Assessment Workshop which brought together persons from various disciplines in the public and private sector.
In 2007 PAHO introduced the concept of the Safe Hospital Index to St. Lucia which grew in 2013 with the addition of the Green Hospital concept. Participants who comprise nurses, architects, fire service personnel and engineers have now conducted assessments on all aspects of every health facilities in St. Lucia, in terms of its functionality, structure, safety to fire events all to ascertain how to best build resilience in these facilities.
“At the end of this we will compile all our data together, do up a spend/benefit analysis to find out what the cost of fixing these facilities are compared to where we are at now. So basically what we are doing now is setting a baseline to know where we’re building from and how we’re getting to where we need to go in the future.” So said one of the main organizers of the workshop Monty Emmanuel, Civil Engineer with the Ministry of Health.
Emmanuel added that due to climate change events, such as the Christmas Eve Trough of 2013 which caused sever damage to infrastructure, the need to build resilience in facilities has become even more critical to allow key facilities such as a health centre to remain operational before, during and after a natural disaster.
The United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) is funding this project to a tune of EC $5 million which entails the training of personnel to compile relevant data and to retrofit some of the facilities to make them Smart Health Care Facilities.
“As you know some of the facilities are in better condition than others. Some are small and the capacities are growing so this will assist us to retrofit and make the facilities better and provide the necessary services which is required out of the health facility…Resilience is not only for health facilities it’s for schools, houses, it’s affecting everybody so we want the knowledge to spread. We used a toolkit which covered a wide range of activities not specific to health.” Emmanuel stated.
Valerie Beach-Horne, Country Programme Specialist for PAHO said the Safe Hospital Project is part of PAHO’s response to climate change mitigation as the region as not been spared from numerous natural disasters in recent years.
“Allot of our health facilities are located in areas where they are prone to flooding, where they are prone to damage from landslides, wind and other disasters, they’re also large consumers of energy. So this project will no only make them safer in terms of location and how we can prevent some of the flooding issues and other negative effects of disasters but also how we can make them greener. How we can make them more energy efficient and therefore more economical to run and this is the way we are trying to mitigate the effects and also impact on providing cheaper and more economical health care for our people.” Beach-Horne said.
She stated that PAHO through the assistance of DFID has already made a hospital in St. Vincent safe and St. Lucia is now at the stage of assessing its facilities to make a determination as to which ones to retrofit, develop or make greener and safer after all the data has been process and analysed.
The PAHO Official expressed her satisfaction with the manner in which the workshop was conducted and encouraged the participants to continue implementing the techniques learned at the workshop to help build resilience in facilities to reduce the impact of climate change.