$12 mil. mini-hospital opened in Abaco
JAYME C. PINDER
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Apr 20, 2017
There were many tears and wide smiles in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, yesterday as Prime Minister Perry Christie cut the ribbons tied around the main entrance of the new Marsh Harbour Healthcare Centre.
While speaking to an emotional crowd in Abaco, Christie said the renovations at the facility, which are valued at “roughly $12 million”, were a part of the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) plan to prepare the country for the full rollout of National Health Insurance (NHI) by creating and renovating infrastructure and providing more resources.
“In recent years, my government has spearheaded an intensive effort to reform our national health platform in an effort to realize the essential values of a modern public health system and that is access, quality, equity, affordability and sustainability,” said Christie.
“Following a long period of evaluation, examination, consultation and public discussion, my government has determined that the implementation of universal coverage through a phased National Health Insurance program is, in fact, the best and the most sustainable path towards the improvement of healthcare delivery in our nation.
“The initial rollout of our NHI program, as you would have heard, will focus on the delivery of primary care services through a network of public and private primary care centers.
“This has demanded a significant investment in resources in the renovation, refurbishment and upgrading of public health clinics all across our country.
“These improvements have been undertaken in order to ensure that these facilities meet the standard of the NHI program.”
Christie said a big part of effective healthcare is trying to prevent illnesses and diseases rather than simply treating or curing them. He said it is important for people of all ages to live and lead healthy lives.
Adamant that he was “not trying to be political”, the prime minister said whoever wins the upcoming general election ought to take the health of its citizens more seriously because our nation has too many cases of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, among other ailments.
In the event that he is re-elected as prime minister, he said he plans to build two similar facilities in Exuma and Eleuthera.
“In our country, it is important that if we are going to maintain the cost of NHI, for us to be more disciplined and committed to heathy lifestyles.
“As a part of the NHI offering, we indicated we would begin a fund of $24 million which could be $30 million because we wanted to recognize it would be catastrophic illnesses and that we would have the means to make interventions...to save people’s lives.
“So we are going to start with the capacity that could be $30 million a year to do the right thing.
“The government is committed to recognizing that we are now opening this facility in Abaco, to say to the people of Exuma, yes you are partially opened but we are in the process of taking all of the necessary steps to put you, in the shortest possible time, in the same position that we are in, in Abaco.
“So Exuma, we are [coming to] you.
“Now [Former Prime Minister] Hubert Ingraham took care of Abaco and he threw Exuma in.
“My mom came from Eleuthera so I just asked the Ministry of Finance to dedicate money [for the foundation] for the new hospital that will be in Palmetto Point in Eleuthera.”
State of the art
Construction for the healthcare center began under the Free National Movement (FNM) in April of 2012. It began nearly 25 years after the first community clinic was built in Marsh Harbour in 1988.
The 33,000 square foot facility has three wings. It is equipped with five doctor exam rooms, an eight bed unit and a state of the art laboratory.
The trauma room has three beds.
The adminstration wing has a staff cafeteria and a state of the art pharmacy.
There is also a morgue where autopsies will be performed.
Community Health Administrator Charlene Bain said there are currently about 20 people working in the healthcare center.
That number is expected to increase to 70 by September inclusive of 16 nurses, five doctors, three pharmacists and two lab technicians.
Christie reiterated his government’s commitment to see to the advancement of healthcare throughout all islands.
“...My government has continued to prioritize the development and reform of healthcare in our country because the old adage still rings true, ‘The health of the nation is the wealth of the nation,’” Christie said.
“Within these hallowed halls that we now dedicate to the service of the Bahamian people, doctors, nurses and support staff will dispense the highest quality care with professionalism and compassion.
“In the event of medical emergency, the facility is equipped to stabilize patients prior to referral to a tertiary facility such as the Princess Margaret Hospital or the Rand Memorial Hospital in Grand Bahama.
“Dental care, maternal and child health services, ambulatory care and other primary care services based out of this healthcare center will be upgraded as a new emphasis on patient-centered care is applied at every point of contact between healthcare providers and patients.
“The Marsh Harbour Healthcare Centre has also been designed to respond to the most challenging public health issues of our day.
“Globalization and advances in modern transportation has brought the world to our doorstep.
“The Bahamas, like other nations around the world, is forced to consider the impact of pandemic and trans-national infections.
“This facility not only allows for surveillance of select communicable diseases, but also for rapid response and containment of serious infectious diseases, increasing the capacities of public health services on the island.”