Lions Council Chairman, Multiple District 60, Lloyd Barker (red jacket), and Health Minister, Donville Inniss, unveil a plaque to commemorate the completion of Phase 1 of the Lions Eye Care Centre, at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, while Chief Executive Officer, Dexter James looks on. (A. Miller/BGIS)

The Lions’ Eye Care Centre located at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) was officially handed over today.

And, according to Health Minister, Donville Inniss, this was an occasion that many had been looking forward to for some years, particularly the Lions Club of Barbados members.?? ??

After being closed as a result of air-quality issues, a decision was made to rebuild the air-condition system for that section of the building to provide an acceptable air-quality level.??

The refurbishment project was financed by a $5 million European Development Fund grant and loan proceeds of $8 million. It included an air-condition refurbishment as well as the creation of a cardiac suite on the vacant first floor of the building.??

The Minister expressed pleasure that the commitment he had made to the Lions Club International had been met, as it was necessary to meet the eye care needs of Barbadians.??

"I am happy that today, not only do we not have to send Barbadians abroad for eye care, but we also can now open our doors to welcome others from other parts of the world to obtain ophthalmology services here in Barbados… I must also commend the QEH for having the vision of sending staff off and facilitating their training and the recruitment of ophthalmologists in various sub-specialties to the extent now that we can truly say that we are nearing the point where we will have a centre of excellence for eye care in the western hemisphere.?? I cannot think of any other health care facility, this side of the world, that has the kind of skills available within ophthalmology services, that the QEH has," Mr. Inniss remarked.??

He, however, implored the Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Dexter James, and the Board of the Hospital to ensure that there were also nurses available who were trained in the area and who would be allowed to work in their area of specialty training.

Mr. Inniss pointed out that non-communicable diseases were also impacting eye disease and as a result of this added need, his Ministry had taken the decision to expand opthamology services within the polyclinics.

"We cannot put all of the pressure on the QEH," he said, while cautioning those in charge at the QEH to ensure that this investment was well-maintained.?? ??????????????????????

"…We spend millions of tax payer’s dollars providing equipment and new systems and then we don’t maintain them well.?? Then in another year or two you hear that the facility has to be closed because of poor air quality…. This is too large of an investment for it not to be maintained."

He called on the health care institution to continue to expand its services and market them beyond public patients and Barbadians, and emphasised: "This presents QEH with a business opportunity.?? You have a centre of excellence.?? You need to market it, and you need to generate some revenue for this institution."????

The cardiac suite, located on the first floor of the building, is due to be completed by the end of April.??


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