High-risk expectant moms, babies to benefit from specialised units at Spanish Town Hospital

Health Minister Dr. the Honourable Christopher Tufton (third from right) and head of the EU Delegation to Jamaica, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska (fourth from right), together with other officials make Wednesday's groundbreaking for the construction of two high dependency units at the Spanish Town Hospital official. The construction is being undertaken under the EU-funded Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality.

High-risk expectant mothers and their babies will soon be able to comfortably access care at the Spanish Town Hospital, thanks to the construction of two high-dependency units at that facility.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the two HDUs, which are made possible through the Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PROMAC) – managed by the Ministry of Health and financed to the tune of 22 million Euros by the European Union – was held on Tuesday, July 11.

HDUs provide an intermediate level of care between what is available on a general ward and in an intensive care unit, and from which mothers as well as newborns with life-threatening medical conditions or illnesses, including severe infections, benefit.

The $236-million development of the HDUs at Spanish Town Hospital is the second of its kind to be introduced across five referral hospitals in Jamaica under PROMAC. The first was at the St Ann’s Bay Hospital, for which ground was broken in May.

The Spanish Town Hospital development is comprised of a neonatal HDU with eight beds, including two neonatal isolation suites and a maternal HDU with five beds, including a maternal isolation suite. They are to be equipped with highly specialised radiographic equipment, critical care ventilators, and specialised patient-monitoring equipment.

M&M Jamaica Limited was awarded the contract to undertake the construction, which is scheduled for completion within 12 months.

PROMAC is to establish a total of nine new maternal and neonatal HDUs at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital, the Cornwall Regional Hospital, and the Bustamante Hospital for Children – in addition to the Spanish Town and St Ann’s Bay hospitals.

This will amount to a total of 65 HDU beds – 22 maternal and 43 neonatal, including isolation suites – and the supply of specialised maternal and neonatal hospital equipment to support the HDUs islandwide.

PROMAC is intended to reduce deaths attributable to high risk factors for mother and child through the establishment of the HDUs, bolstering primary health care services for high-risk pregnancies and enhancing the clinical knowledge and skills of health professionals.