Health and Wellness Minister Honourable Mary Isaac went through an extensive list of improvements made to the health care system over the past two years during this week’s special health update to the nation.
Wednesday evening’s special broadcast featured an address by Prime Minister Honourable Allen Chastanet, Minister Isaac’s updates, as well as updates from Minister for Economic Development Honourable Guy Joseph.
The nation’s Health Minister highlighted the provision of ultrasound machines to the Dennery Hospital, the Gros Islet Poly Clinic, and the Soufriere Hospital. She noted Soufriere Hospital’s operations would be fully operational by October 2018, and that the lab and imaging services at Gros Islet Poly Clinic had also been improved through the procurement of additional equipment. The opening hours there had recently been increased, and government was looking at extending them further, opening the clinic on holidays, up to midnight of every day.
“We’ve refurbished the Wellness Center under the Smart Hospital initiative,” Minister Isaac announced. “We are doing so in the Wellness Centers in Belle Vue, Desruisseaux, and Mon Repos. A total of 12 Wellness Centers will be refurbished under the Smart Wellness Center project.”
Currently six pharmacy technicians were undergoing training in Jamaica, an effort that was expected to improve pharmacy services in Region 4 and Region 5. Pharmacy services at the Gros Islet Poly Clinic had also been increased for an additional eight hours a day. Dental services for both adult and children were now being offered at the National Mental Wellness Center, and a new dental hygienist had been appointed to the Gros Islet Poly Clinic. New changes included diabetic retinopathic services which were now being offered at the Castries Wellness Center and the Vieux Fort Wellness Center.
Key to note was that services from Victoria Hospital were already being moved to the Owen King-EU Hospital. So far the dialysis unit had been moved successfully, with some of those services still available at Victoria Hospital. The new machines at OKEU added 12 to what was being offered at VH. The Physiotherapy Department had also been moved from VH to OKEU with related pharmaceuticals, with the Medial Outpatient Unit being the last to be moved to OKEU. The minister noted that the move was being made strategically so it would be done as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
Mental wellness services on island had been strengthened with the addition of a counsellor, and occupational therapist. A child and adolescent unit was also now being commissioned at the National Wellness Center. Previously, there had been no distinction with adult and children sections at the facility.
The health minister noted that government was continuing collaborations with external partners, including the World Pediatric Project. There was now a budget allocated to that particular project, which was previously offered free of charge to the government and people of Saint Lucia. The minister noted the programme had been abused prior to the budget being implemented, and when her government had come on board, they were required to pay for the people getting those services. Now that things were back on track, she said the project was going very well.
Back on the positive side, the Starkey Hearing Foundation had promised to fit every St Lucian who needed a hearing aid, with a hearing aid, as well as batteries and supporting apparatus. An agreement had also been renewed with the Sick Kids Hospital of Toronto, which included the provision of medical information to clinical officers in Saint Lucia.
Diabetic retinopathic services including eye laser surgery would be offered in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene, and Tropical Medicine and Vision 2020 Links.
With health being the wealth of a nation, Isaac looked forward to the Ministry of Health continuing to improve healthcare services being offered to the public.