Geriatric Hospital, SRC to Receive Upgrades

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Minister of Health and Social Development Dr. the Hon. Hubert A. Minnis (left) tours a section of the Child and Adolescent Unit at the Sandilands Rehabilitation, along with Governor-General His Excellency the Hon. Arthur D. Hanna, during the Governor-General’s Annual Visit on Wednesday, December 12, 2007.  Dr. Minnis said the completion and occupation of a new Child and Adolescent Complex are among the priorities for the facility.  Nursing Auxiliary Veronica Strachan, who was voted as the Unit’s Most Outstanding Employee, accompanies His Excellency and Dr. Minnis. (Photo/Patrick Hanna).

By: Matt Maura

NASSAU, The Bahamas —The expansion and renovation of the Geriatric Hospital and the completion of a new Child and Adolescent Complex on the grounds of the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre (SRC) will go a long way in the Government’s quest to meet a number of the challenges currently facing the facility, Minister of Health and Social Development Dr. the Hon Hubert A. Minnis said Wednesday, December 12, 2007.

The renovations to the Geriatric Hospital, Dr. Minnis said, will result in the expansion of the west and north wings and the facilitation of new bathroom facilities, patient lockers and storage areas. It will further result in central air-conditioning for the wards, a new visitor’s area and a Staff Lounge, complete with bathrooms.

“Needless to say, this will go a long way in our continued quest to provide an uplifting environment for both staff and clients alike,” Dr. Minnis said.

The Health and Social Development Minister said the measures are part of the ministry’s overall plan to upgrade the physical plant at SRC which he said continues to be “stretched to its limit in an attempt to accommodate our patient load.”

“Of concern is the increased number of juvenile referrals from the judicial system,” Dr. Minnis said. “The Child and Adolescent Unit has the capacity to house 24 persons, but at times, has been made to house up to 40 persons.

“This situation magnifies the need for the completion and occupation of the new Child and Adolescent Complex as it is only through the expansion of our facility and the acquisition of the requisite staff, that we will be able to meet the challenges posed by this sector of our population.

“In light of this and other challenges that the Government is aware of, it is our intent to look at what needs to be done to redevelop the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre as well as the services we offer to the Bahamian people,” he added.

Dr. Minnis said healthcare officials are constantly faced with the challenges associated with the provision of optimal healthcare. He said some of these include the provision of basic services as well as evaluations of acutely ill inmates at Her Majesty’s Prison “on a weekly basis.”

He said the facility will utilize a team of mental health professionals to deliver a more consistent service to the prison “as this is desperately needed.”

Dr. Minnis said it is their further hope that mental health services will be provided for the Family Islands “as this remains an area of concern as the residents in these islands do not have ready access to professional care.”

“It is our belief that the more populated islands of Abaco, Exuma, Eleuthera and Andros are in urgent need of regular visits from a team of mental health professionals,” he said. “It would be a major step forward if the additional manpower were to be put in place to accommodate regular quarterly visits to these islands.”

Dr. Minnis said, despite these challenges, the Government continues to allocate the available resources to ensure that all aspects of healthcare receive adequate attention.

“Over this past year, officials at the Centre focused their attention on ensuring that all patients under their care are provided equal access to our services,” he said.

“This has meant re-evaluating our approach to problems, such as substance abuse, follow-up clinics, staff development and the increasing the number of Creole-speaking members of our patient population.”

Dr. Minnis encouraged staff and administrators to continue to build on what they have accomplished, adding that it takes a “special breed” of person to cater to the needs of a “very special sector of our community.”

“Being the country’s only residential facility that provides the specialized attention needed to rehabilitate and reintegrate your wards into the wider society, it takes a special breed of person with a special brand of caring to want to work in this environment,” he said.

“I extend sincere gratitude to you all for your diligence in attaining the high level of care provided to the citizens of The Bahamas,” Dr. Minnis added.