Work to resume on Western Children and Adolescents Hospital
Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has said arrangements are being finalised with the Chinese Embassy for work to resume on the construction of the Western Children and Adolescents Hospital in Montego Bay, after the project was stalled due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tufton gave the update last Friday following a tour of the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) in Mt Salem, St James, with representatives of the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA).
“This past week I met with the Chinese Embassy around the Adolescent and Paediatric Hospital, and as you know, that facility is going to be right here [on the grounds of the CRH]. The arrangements are now being put in place for a second work team to continue the work,” said Tufton.
“There is a process that the arrangement involves, in terms of getting work permits, and we are now coordinating that with the Chinese Embassy and other agencies of the State to continue that work on the ground,” the minister added.
Although he did not specify a timeline for the resumption of the construction work or when it may be finished, Tufton acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic played a role in delaying the project. That delay included restrictions on the transportation of manpower and building materials from China, where news of the virus first surfaced in January 2020.
“The delays we have suffered, linked to the Chinese buildout, are significantly influenced by COVID-19, because COVID-19 has restricted travel and a number of other things. That project is off schedule by just over a year, but that is largely a function of the COVID-19 virus and its impact on the movement of people and materials,” said Tufton.
Ground was officially broken on October 23, 2019, for the construction of the 220-bed Western Children and Adolescents Hospital, which was then projected for completion by May this year. However, WRHA Regional Director Errol Greene called that deadline into question last June due to the spread of the coronavirus in Jamaica, although he noted that the facility’s foundation was complete.
The facility is expected to have an in-house pharmacy, an emergency room, and a dialysis room, plus administrative offices, a food court, and accommodation for employees. It is also intended to complement the Bustamante Hospital for Children in Kingston, providing increased access to specialised paediatric and adolescent care.
It is expected to benefit from a J$3.9-billion allocation for the improvement of several health facilities across the country, according to the Jamaican Government’s fiscal policy paper for the 2020-21 financial year.