High hopes have been expressed for the 51 million euro state-of-the-art New National Hospital, which according to Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony has the potential to be the most modern and sought-after hospital in the Eastern Caribbean.
Speaking at a guided tour of the facility at Coubaril this week, Dr. Anthony said that once the institution is completed “and if we live” in its promise “it is going to be perhaps the most modern and most sought-after hospital in the Caribbean. We therefore will have a responsibility to our neighbours in the Caribbean as we search for new specialisation and for new treatment.”
He said while the hospital is a gift from the EU, it is also an opportunity for the people of the eastern Caribbean to secure modern health care.
The prime minister further noted that the facility is expected to bring new possibilities for local health care providers such as staff training and the use of new technology.
He mentioned the possibility of the hospital becoming a “teaching hospital” through a special relationship with the University of the West Indies where locals studying medicine overseas would be able to travel home to complete their studies, hence taking the hospital “to a new level – a different level”.
The European Union-funded hospital spans 14,500 square meters with 33 departments.
The initiative is the largest EU-funded project in the entire region.
According to Health Minister Alvina Reynolds, the construction of the hospital forms “an integral part” of the country’s health sector reform process which focuses on integration, effectiveness and efficiency with an ability to respond to the health needs of the populace.
Among the aims of the hospital, the facility seeks to bring an overall improvement in the health care services such as outpatient care, accident and emergency, observation beds, ophthalmology, children’s outpatient, obstetrics and gynecology.
The New National Hospital, also referred to as “a hotel for healing and rehabilitation”, will feature administration meeting rooms, shops, offices and library and several more components.
The financing for supplies and furniture for the new institution came from grant funding by the European Commission in the amount of 4.5 million euro or EC$16 million. Half of the equipment lots have already been approved by the EU and delivery and installation commenced in June this year. That process is expected to be completed by January 2015.
Reynolds, on behalf of the government and people of St. Lucia, along with the prime minister, expressed gratitude for the EU’s funding of the hospital.
“We look forward to the continuing support of your countries as we collaborate in pursuance of the goal of developing health services delivery system, that is accessible, affordable and sustainable and of international standard,” she said.
Meanwhile Mikael Barfod – ambassador to Barbados and Eastern Caribbean – said he was impressed with the design and location of the hospital.
“In an age of scarce resources and stifling energy costs in the region I am also very encouraged to note the many sustainable design features of the hospital,” he added.
The tour of the facility involved the ambassador, prime minister, health minister, and other officials.
The New National Hospital project started in January 2009. It comprises 200 beds and will be equipped for inpatients and principal diagnostic and therapeutic services.
Once the hospital is opened, the Victoria Hospital will be decommissioned and reopened as the Castries Urban Polyclinic. When that happens, the Castries Health Centre will be closed permanently.