A new male ward, being constructed at the St. James Infirmary at a cost of more than $55 million, is slated for completion in 2020.
The facility will complement the existing ward, which has been outgrown by the population of male residents at the institution.
Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie, said the ward is expected to accommodate 45 residents, and will be outfitted with a nurses’ station, restrooms, beds, state-of-the-art equipment, and a matron’s quarters.
He advised accommodation for the matron is being built, as “one of the requirements under the poor relief regulations [is] that the matron must reside at the facility”.
“So, I have given instructions for the ministry’s technical team to work with the technical team at the St. James Municipal Corporation to prepare the necessary designs and estimates for the construction of the new matron’s quarters, which we are hoping to commence in the new financial year,” he explained.
McKenzie indicated that construction of the ward, which is being funded from $220 million provided by the National Housing Trust (NHT), forms part of a programme by the Government to upgrade facilities and infrastructure at various infirmaries.
“This project (ward construction) is… almost halfway complete… [and] we are expecting [it] to be completed by the end of this financial year,” he stated.
Minister McKenzie says based on activities undertaken, to date, “the quality of the work seems to be of a very high standard”.
“I want to commend the contractor who has undertaken the job, and I believe that they are working within the budget,” he added.
He further noted that the ward, when complete, will serve as a model for replication at other infirmaries, adding that “we are looking at a total revamping of how our infirmaries are operated”.
Meanwhile, Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Homer Davis, asserted that the infirmary is undergoing overall upgrading, noting that the corporation recently purchased a new generator and ambulance.
“We have also built a brand-new gazebo and are now [completing] the [facility’s] therapeutic park,” he said.
Matron of the infirmary, Jacqueline Wilson, describes the upgrades as “excellent”.
“[There are] so many changes and the residents are now experiencing some form of comfort and joy. So, we thank the minister for the good work he is doing,” she adds.
For her part, Inspector of Poor for St. James, Pauline Lecky, lauded the infirmary’s staff for consistently delivering high-quality service in caring for the residents.
“This is one of the infirmaries that I supervise… and each time I visit, [the residents] are well groomed [and] look well nourished. So, I must [commend] the matron and her staff. They are doing a good job,” she told JIS News.
Lecky also lauds the members of the St. James Municipal Corporation on the work they are doing, particularly in relation to the infirmary.
In January of this year, the Ministry of Local Government and the NHT signed a memorandum of understanding for the upgrade and expansion of the island’s infirmaries.