Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, explained that a phased approach would be taken with regard to the 24-hour service at the David Thompson Health and Social Services Complex. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

The expanded Accident and Emergency Department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital should be operational early next year. 

Following a site visit earlier this week, Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, indicated that the project remained on track, despite the halt in excavation work caused by the COVID-19 shutdown. 

“Like everything else, COVID-19 would’ve impacted on the progress of work here on the site.  I believe it took about seven weeks away from the plans that we had, in terms of time…, so I’m glad that it has restarted and I’m happy with what I’ve been seeing.”

“We’re looking definitely to have the new structure up and running by mid-February or so,” he added, noting that this was a part of the phased approach to ensuring the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) was in a position to better serve the public.

The Health Minister also gave an update on the status of the proposed 24-hour service to be offered at the David Thompson Health and Social Services Complex. 

He explained that Government was forced to halt the introduction of the service due to the delay in the arrival of nurses from Ghana because of the COVID-19 global lockdown.

“Throughout the last several weeks, we’ve been in constant contact with authorities in Ghana. They’re ready to go. Everything from our end has been done, and we are now in the process, through the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, of arranging a flight to bring the nurses from Ghana to Barbados within the next few weeks,” Minister Bostic revealed, noting that the nurses will be quarantined, before they are allowed to work at the polyclinic, QEH or district polyclinics. 

The Health Minister pointed out, however, that while the arrival of the Ghanaian nurses would help to give local authorities a better idea as to when to commence the 24-hour service at the St. John facility, it would not be done immediately. 

Minister Bostic explained that a phased approach would be taken, which would see the polyclinic first operating as an “extended hours clinic”, which would operate daily throughout the week and open later than it currently does. This process would be evaluated.

He gave two reasons for this decision. The first being access to the clinic via public transportation, and he disclosed plans to meet with the Ministry of Transport Works and Maintenance and the Transport Authority “to determine some routes that would allow easy access to the clinic”.

Minister Bostic added: “Secondly, when we looked at the volume of traffic coming into Winston Scott 24-hour service, and the fact that the numbers coming from St. John and the catchment area of St. George, St. Joseph and St. Andrew were not at that high enough level that would give us the confidence of going full 24 hours.”

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