There is a need for a rehabilitation unit to be established at the Geriatric Hospital.
This was revealed by Health Minister, Donville Inniss, as he addressed the official start of activities to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the founding of that institution, at its Beckles Road location.
The Minister said that the creation of this unit was necessary because of long-life expectancy of Barbadian as well as the fact that… a high percentage of the elderly population was affected by chronic non-communicable diseases. He disclosed that work would commence shortly on wards at the Geriatric Hospital which have been identified to house this unit.
"Preliminary estimates indicate approximately one million dollars would to be invested in such a facility here. We cannot replicate such across the island and hence there will have to be a central facility here. The public must develop that general awareness that elderly and disabled persons can function independently within society as long as they are provided with the necessary support." he said.
The Minister also alluded to plans to refurbish the entire hospital, but noted that financial constraints and the increasing demand for beds for the elderly made it impossible to close the facility in order to effect these repairs.
"It is, therefore, my Ministry’s intention to do this on a phased basis, and it is anticipated that the entire plant would be completely refurbished within a five-year period. All I ask is that whoever undertakes physical development work here, as elsewhere in this Ministry, complete such work within time, within budget and of the highest quality. We cannot waste taxpayers’ money – there is too much to be done and so little financial resources," he stated.
Another development expected soon at the Geriatric Hospital is the establishment of a Sub-Acute Unit, which, according to the Minister, is currently under discussion and aims to reduce the burden of long-stay patients at the QEH, while creating valuable bed space.??
Mr. Inniss disclosed that the laundry was also set to be overhauled on a phased basis, over a three year period, and plans are in train to construct a new kitchen and storage facility to enhance the dietary services of the hospital. "Invitations to tender were publicised last week and we are expecting to spend $5.3 million over the next two financial years on such a facility," he remarked.
While explaining that institutional strengthening would be a priority, the Minister announced plans to strengthen the management structure with the creation of an Assistant Hospital Manager, a Senior Geriatric Social Worker and a Medical Records Clerk. He added: "I have also invited staff at the Ministry of Health to consider placing four District Hospitals and the Elayne Scantlebury Home under one management team.
The Geriatric Hospital was originally known as the Almshouse.?? Over the years many improvements were made, as well as changes to the name of the facility, until it was renamed the Geriatric Hospital. The largest of the five district hospitals across the island, it is a 350 bed care centre, with a staff of 352 persons. It also functions as a Day Care Centre for the elderly.