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SVG opens first Smart hospital in Caribbean

SVG opens first Smart hospital in Caribbean

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St Vincent and the Grenadines can now boast of having the first Smart Hospital in the Caribbean.{{more}}

This achievement was realized with the upgrading and reopening, last Saturday, of the Georgetown hospital, which officials claim bridges the gap between safety, disaster risk reduction and energy conservation.

Health Minister Clayton Burgin, speaking at the opening ceremony, which took place on the hospital grounds, said that this country secured the Smart Hospital initiative this year, when Jamaica, the first option, was unable to embrace the entire project, when offered.

“And so we quickly seized the opportunity, and submitted two possible sites for consideration: the Chateaubelair hospital and the Georgetown hospital.

“We were then requested to table data on both facilities, and the Georgetown hospital was selected by the regional project team, and the works were contracted out to Williams Electronics, the minister informed.

Burgin said that the project was able to alleviate a number of shortcomings that were discovered at the institution, when an evaluation was done using the Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) safe hospital index two years ago.

“There was a high level of risk to volcanic eruptions and hurricanes; there was an enormous need for attention to be paid to the design and retrofitting of the roof; there were no back-up plans for water; there was no alternative source for energy in the event that the facility is cut off from main power supply; and there were numerous defects on the facility.”

With the Smart Hospital project completed, the minister noted that all of these issues have been rectified, and that new and exciting times were ahead for the health care service.

The project saw a number of advanced features added to the institution, which Alex Williams, chief engineer of Williams Electronics, highlighted during the ceremony.

“This project means the Smart Hospital is eco-friendly, disaster resilient and energy efficient… retrofitted with LED lighting, solar water heaters and a 10 kilowatt photovoltaic system.

“These components come together to reduce the energy consumption of this building by over 70 per cent,” Williams noted.

“The redesign also allows for natural lighting and ventilation, as an effort to build a more disaster resilient building.”

Williams emphasized that the entire plumbing system was retrofitted; in addition, a 3,000 gallon water storage and filtration system was installed.

“Windows, doors and flooring were replaced, and the roof repaired and strengthened.

“A new electrical generator was installed as a back-up source of power, an electronic fire alarm system, and fire extinguishers were also installed.”

The young engineer also pointed out that the project was delivered on time, and within the US$345,926 (EC$900,000) budget.

Representative of PAHO Dana Van Alphen, speaking at the ceremony, said that the work done at the Georgetown hospital has been promoted throughout the region as a flagship of what needs to be done, in order to bring medical institutions in line with the framework for achieving development resilience to climate change, and to promote the reduction of the exposure to vector borne diseases.

“So, new hospitals in the future, they have to be developed at higher standards, because they have to incorporate not only the safety, but also lower energy and water use to withstand climate change effects,” Alphen noted.

“Currently, there are other countries that are interested in similar projects… to smarten their hospitals.

“PAHO is indeed very appreciative of the efforts made by all involved in this project…”

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who gave the feature address, noted that with the improvement of current facilities, and the construction of new ones, there is need for the education and training of more and new health care givers.

“We can build the facilities, but unless we have the doctors, the nurses, all the various specialists and technicians of one kind or another, proper hospital administrators, the pharmacists… we are not going to get anywhere,” he said.

The 25-bed facility was funded by PAHO, UKAID, the United Kingdom based Department for International Development, with local assistance from the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO), and the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment. (JJ)

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