- Health Centre given Safety, Green & Functional Upgrade
Jamaica, Santa Cruz, 18th January 2024 (PAHO) – As part of the ‘Smart’ or Strengthening Health Care Facilities in the Caribbean Project, the upgraded Santa Cruz Health Centre was ceremonially handed over to the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) after the retrofitting was completed by the contractor HDB construction Ltd. The facility was retrofitted to become safer, greener, and more resilient to natural disasters and climate change. In Jamaica a total of 12 facilities were upgraded and an additional 2 full designs were handed over to the Ministry as part of this project.
The Santa Cruz Health Centre is the final fully retrofitted site under this project to a ‘gold’ project standard to improve its resistance across a range of hazards including strong winds, flooding, and earthquakes and to reduce its environmental footprint.
The safety upgrades included the replacement or strengthening of damaged timber roofs, waterproofing and strengthening of connections, installation of new doors and hurricane shutters, replacement of damaged floor finishes with introduction of antimicrobial floor surfaces in critical clinical areas, upgrades to the electrical network and the introduction of firefighting equipment and a fire alarm system.
The green upgrades provided for more efficient cooling, ventilation and waste management, installation of a rainwater harvesting system and improved storm water drainage to associated smart retrofit works, use of LED-lighting, and a 15kW Photovoltaic system – all aimed at lowering the operating expenditures and improving contingency measures by providing backup power and water in emergencies.
The functional upgrades included the expansion of the facility patient waiting area, installation of appropriate emergency exits throughout the facility and new disabled access ramp next to the extended waiting area. The cabinetry and washroom facilities were improved throughout, and a new disabled patient toilet was installed.
The project has provided the Caribbean with a blueprint for good disaster and climate resilience infrastructure practice that is being used by other countries and sectors. Jamaica assessed 148 of its facilities and based on the percentage scores and a traffic light system identified priorities and further areas of work to reach the desired gold standard criteria. The Jamaica government has also incorporated these resilient design standards into its building code and secured US$100M from others to upgrade more health facilities.
Mr. Ian Stein, PAHO/WHO Representative in Jamaica, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands stated, “The designation of health facilities as “smart” is crucial for developing resilience in the health system as we strive to transform the country’s healthcare system and achieve universal health. Attaining this common objective requires strong collaborations and strategic investments to lay the foundation for a healthcare system capable of effectively navigating challenges and safeguarding the well-being of the population in the face of public health threats.”
“We thank UKaid for its substantial investment in upgrading and retrofitting 12 health centres and commend the organization for laying the groundwork, thereby enabling the healthcare system to take additional steps in enhancing its infrastructure.”
Sir Philip Barton, Permanent Under Secretary of the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, told the attendees: “I am delighted to be here for the handover of this upgraded health facility. This is the last of four centres that have been transformed by UK Development funds, along with another eight (8) that have received smaller upgrades”.
He further added that “The blueprint and toolkit developed for this project provide a helpful platform for risk reduction within the health sector going forward. We applaud Jamaica’s efforts so far in securing significant additional funding for upgrading more sites and being the first in the region to embed the new standards in their building codes. The recent earthquake and the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the importance of disaster preparedness and contingency measures at health facilities for staff and patients and ensuring the health system is resilient to cope with unexpected problems that may come”.
Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, Minister of Health and Wellness said that, “ The Smart Healthcare Facilities Project is a clear example of investment in people and infrastructure. This collaboration with the UK and our implementing partner PAHO is a win for public health in Jamaica and a step in the right direction. Infrastructural resilience remains critical even as we face the threat of climate issues, emerging diseases and the continued dangers associated with NCDs.
Through this ‘smart’ project we are advancing in our efforts to upgrade standards of care and improve service delivery. Already, we have taken steps towards integrating the Smart policy into national strategy and have equipped ourselves with a guidance document on Health Facilities Building Standards to help pave the way for an operational policy”.
The £46.3M Strengthening Health Facilities in the Caribbean (Smart Hospital) project was implemented in 7 countries: Dominica, St. Lucia, Grenada, Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, Belize, Guyana and Jamaica. 55 facilities were upgraded in total to improve their climate resilience across the region. The project was funded by UKaid through its Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in the Caribbean and implemented by PAHO in close collaboration with the Ministries of Health of the selected countries.
In Jamaica the other 11 health facilities that were retrofitted under this project were Mandeville, St. Ann’s Bay and Port Antonio (full retrofits), Gayle, Albert Town, Darliston (medium retrofits), Norman Gardens, Sydenham, Yallahs, Windward Road and Cumberland Road Health Centres (small retrofits). In addition to the 12 retrofitted facilities, 2 full designs for Catherine Hall Health Centre and Stony Hill Health Centre were handed over to the Ministry of Health and Wellness to take forward on their own.
Santa Cruz Health Centre is now upgraded and improved to deliver care in disasters following a full retrofit valued at some USD $1.4M under the Smart Health Care Facilities in the Caribbean Project. The upgraded facility was officially opened on Thursday, January 18. Sharing in the opening ceremony are from left: Dr. Marianne Bullock-DuCasse, International PAHO Consultant, Health Emergencies (Caribbean); Mr. Delroy Slowley, Member of Parliament; Sir Philip Barton, Permanent Under Secretary, UK FDCO; Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, Minister of Health & Wellness; Sean Brissett, Parish Manager, St. Elizabeth Health Services; Ian Stein, PAHO/WHO Country Rep; and Michael Bent, Regional Director, Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA).