Darville notes extensive work still needed to bring Family Island facilities up to par and improve PMH
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Ministry of Health has been given approval for an excess of 270 staff to be dispatched to the Family Islands in an effort to improve healthcare systems on those islands, said Minister of Health Dr Michael Darville yesterday.
Speaking to reporters outside of Cabinet, Darville indicated that the government will seek to address emergency medical services on the Family Islands through two loan facilities from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
We are working very diligently to improve infrastructure, manpower access as well as the delivery of healthcare services in the Family Islands.
– Minister of Health & Wellness Dr Michael Darville
He explained that his team has visited almost every clinic on every Family Island and subsequently presented a paper to Cabinet on manpower deficiencies, which received approval for mobilization.
“We got an approval for an excess of 270 additional staff members, including handymen, clerical staff, ambulance drivers, people who will be able to improve the delivery of healthcare throughout the islands while we move swiftly to do the necessary upgrades of our clinic,” Darville said.
He noted that the project is currently in the “intermediate stage”, with the government needing to meet several IDB loan criteria before it can move forward.
“We are working very diligently to improve infrastructure, manpower access as well as the delivery of healthcare services in the Family Islands,” he said.
The healthcare minister said the country must move to ensure the healthcare system is able to respond to emergencies on those islands.
“We need to do a better job with emergency medical services, on-ground transportation and better coordination because on some of the islands, the clinics are far apart and we need to make sure we have a better response mechanism on the ground in the event of any type of accident or natural disaster,” he said.
The latest move to address Family Island healthcare came amid concerns about the length of time it took for the sole survivor of a car crash on Long Island to be airlifted to New Providence. He later succumbed to his injuries.
Darville noted one of the elements of the IDB loan is to ensure isolation pods are put in place at many of the Family Island facilities in the event of infectious disease.
Additionally, the loans provide for an infrastructural upgrade to improve clinics and get them up to par.
Currently, only a portion of Rand Memorial Hospital has been renovated since the passage of Hurricane Dorian in September 2019.
Darville said there is another section that has not been started and the Accident and Emergency section still has wear and tear associated with the deadly Category 5 hurricane, with additional work needing to be done.
He advised that a request for proposals has been sent out for a morgue at Rand Memorial and it is expected to be completed before the end of the month so the government can move swiftly to award the contract.
The health minister further noted that a lot of remedial work needs to be done at Princess Margaret Hospital, which bore the brunt of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
He said there is still a need to mobilize repairs on the Male Medical II ward and provide additional bed space at the facility.
“We must ensure that we are able to provide services at a better standard and to ensure patients have the kind of experience they deserve to have,” he said.