Saint Lucia’s Respiratory Hospital will be repurposed into a multi-purpose medical facility, Health Minister Moses Jn. Baptiste indicated Monday.
The Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs held a press conference at NTN Studios on Monday to discuss its plans for the Victoria Hospital which was converted to a respiratory hospital in March 2020 to provide care and treatment for COVID-19 patients.
Speaking at Monday’s press conference, Jn. Baptiste said the new facility will be developed and operated under the theme “One patient, three services”.
As part of the review and reform process, government, he says, has recognized the need to repurpose the respiratory hospital, particularly in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Consequently, on February 20, 2023, the Cabinet of Ministers deliberated and provided a policy directive. Cabinet, by conclusion 110 of 2023, directed that Victoria Hospital/Respiratory Hospital be repurposed and should include a multi-purpose medical facility comprising primary health services, urgent health care and a secondary health care facility.
The administrative section (former Accident and Emergency Department, the Francis Dolto Building and the area allocated to the Cuban Eye Care clinic are designated to be designed and operated as the Castries Urban Polyclinic.”
Through a phased approach, the services currently offered at the Castries Wellness Centre will be transferred to the Urban Polyclinic. This will also see the employment of additional human resources by the Ministry of Health in a phased manner to ensure continued operations of the facility.
All clinics at the Castries Urban Polyclinic will operate from Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Urgent Care Department will operate daily including weekends and holidays from 8:00 a.m. to midnight.
Meanwhile, the remaining sections of the Respiratory Hospital will be managed by the Millennium Heights Medical Complex (MHMC), under its Secondary Care Wing. The Secondary Care Wing and Castries Urban Polyclinic will include an Infectious Disease Unit and a Convalescent Care Unit.
During her presentation, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sharon Belmar-George listed the gamut of services that will be provided at the Castries Urban Polyclinic to include: antenatal and postnatal clinic, child health clinics, family planning clinics, cancer screening, hypertension and diabetes clinics, among others.
“For many years now, we have noticed the many health needs placed on the Castries Wellness Centre with the increased population numbers and urban centre use. The present Castries Wellness Centre structure is limited in providing the expansion that is needed at this time and for the future needs. We also note the over-utilization of the Emergency Room at the MHMC for non-emergency cases,” Belmar-George said, adding that presently, there is an urgent need for extended operating hours at the Castries Wellness Centre up to facilitate the urgent cases with a capacity to provide basic laboratory and diagnostic services.”
Chief Executive Officer of MHMC Dr. Dexter James noted that the OKEU has been facing a challenge with bed capacity with 15 to 20 patients awaiting beds on a daily basis. The Secondary Care Hospital according to Dr. James, provides the opportunity to admit stable and low acuity patients, freeing up additional beds at the OKEU Hospital.
The handing over of the facility to the MHMC for Secondary Care Services is expected to occur in early June 2023. The Secondary Care Wing will receive major works between June and August with September 1 this year earmarked for the transfer of the first group of patients.