NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) signed a $3.6 million contract with Inline Project Company Limited for the redevelopment of the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department of Princess Margaret Hospital.
The project will see the conversion of the Elizabeth Estates Clinic and the South Beach Estates Clinic into urgent care centres with extend hours.
PHA Chairman Julian Rolle said the completion of the project, which is already underway, is expected to significantly improve the delivery of emergency and urgent care throughout New Providence, namely by transferring non-medical emergencies from PMH to the renovated urgent care centres.
During the contract signed at the Critical Care Block of PMH, Rolle revealed that as much as 40 percent of the 55,000 cases presented to the A&E at PMH were patients seeking non-urgent disorders.
“In layman’s terms, many of the cases seen in the Emergency Room are not medical emergencies, and these patients could have been seen by a physician in an urgent care facility,” he said.
“While emergency room serve those with life threatening situations, an urgent care facility can treat those needing immediate, but less serious care. Ensuring that patients receive the most appropriate health intervention in the shortest possible time will reduce delays to care and improve in the patient’s health prognosis.”
Rolle said: “We know that lessening the patient load at the emergency room by improving access to urgent care services in communities where patients live and work, not only improves services delivery to patients in those community based centres of care, it improves service delivery in the hospital’s emergency room.”
The emergency department at PMH is expected to be expanded and renovated to improve clinical spaces, patient services, staff workflow and visitor waiting areas, according to officials.
The work is expected to be completed within four weeks.
Meanwhile, Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands said the hospital will undertake all necessary measures during the scope of works to ensure minimal impact of patient services.
He said: “We have spend the better past of the last year looking at the logistics of how do you improve Accident and Emergency, South Beach and Elizabeth Estates without interfering with the ability to provide care.
“Will there be some inconveniences in terms of which doors people go through and where you go and how you drive? Yes, there will be, but certainly we will be able to continue to provide seamless care…”
Sands acknowledged there remains a human resources challenges, particularly nurses and other allied health professionals.
To address this and improve services, Sands advised there will be a redeployment of physicians throughout the healthcare system, and the expansion of services.
He said the ministry is seeking to get South Beach in the first instance to open 24-hours.
Sands said officials have taken a holistic approach to improving all aspects of urgent and emergency care services.
He added that that emergency services will also be expanded in Abaco to reduce the demand for air evacuations to New Providence.
These services will include CAT scans, trauma care, emergency medicine.
Sands said: “When we increase the services provided at South Beach, we anticipated that fewer patients will have to come to Princess Margaret Hospital, but to address the specific question you asked about human resources, we’ve recognized that we have to train differently, deploy differently and the idea is to improve the experience that Bahamian patients get overhaul.”
Phase one is expected to cost $3.6 million.
Phase two could range between $5 million and $7 million, Sands noted.