Minister of Health, Donville Inniss (FP)

Government is making an $8.5 million investment in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) to ensure that, come next year, the issue of inadequate supply of electricity throughout that institution would no longer exist.

This was revealed today by Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, as he addressed the official launch of the Electrical Upgrade Project on the QEH grounds.

In acknowledging that this had been "one of the biggest challenges" faced by the institution, Mr. Inniss said: "…One can recognise that more and more demands have been placed on the QEH…, over the 45 years it has been in existence, but the electrical power has not kept pace with the equipment that has been installed here and the Government took a decision a few months ago that we must make this a priority."

The Health Minister stated that the engineering department had been required to work with stakeholders, including the Barbados Light and Power Company Limited to bring the project to fruition. ??He added: "This is very, very crucial, because once this is completed, we are going to certainly start to install much needed equipment within the hospital and that should lead to drastic improvement in the services and the service level here at the QEH."

He also noted that the project symbolised the Ministry’s commitment to health care and, in particular to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, "which is the place that most of us will have to go to at some point in time".

Although not touching on the issue of a new hospital, Mr. Inniss remarked that, "… regardless of whatever decision is announced over the next couple of days on that issue, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital will not be neglected. This is too important an institution to all of us, not to make the kind of investment we are making."

And, he further disclosed that the QEH’s Board had already identified major areas of priority for which Government had "placed at its disposal the financial resources to make these things happen".?? Listed among these were the cafeteria, which is currently under construction, and the Lions Eye Care Centre Building which, according to Minister Inniss, was never officially handed over to the Government of Barbados.

Concerning the latter, Minister Inniss revealed that most of facility had been closed due to poor air quality within the building. He further explained: "The staff was seriously affected and so were patients, and so the Board took the decision to close that facility and it is now up for renovations and expected to be completed within a year.

"This, needless to say has placed additional pressure particularly on ophthalmology services at the hospital and there is a collaborative effort on between the Ministry of Health and the QEH to address that…" he disclosed.

The Health Minister also pleaded with members of the public to be patient and understand the myriad physical upgrades, renovation projects and maintenance programmes being implemented. He explained: "There will be some additional challenges to the range of services provided here and I ask the public to bear with us, to understand exactly why we need to make these kinds of improvements that we are making now and to rest assured that at the end of the day, it is all aimed at having the Queen Elizabeth Hospital provide a better and more timely service to the public of Barbados."

Meanwhile, Director of Engineering Services at the QEH, Paula Yarde, pointed out that the project had been the result of a study commissioned by the Barbados Light and Power Company Limited in 2007, which recognised the need for improved electrical systems.

The civil aspect of the project commenced today on the south-western end of the hospital’s compound on River Road, where all of the substations, the work for the fuel tank and all of the tasks for the standby generator will be done.??

The entire project is expected to be completed in November 2010.

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