Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves (centre) speaking to journalists and other officials outside the new Georgetown Modern Medical Complex
June 5, 2018
PM leads media in walk-through of new Modern Medical Complex

With only a few weeks left before the Georgetown Modern Medical Complex (MMC) opens its doors to patients, it has opened its doors for the media.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves led a tour of the facility, which will encompass three installations — the Georgetown Clinic, the Smart Hospital and the Diagnostic and Treatment Centre, last Friday afternoon. He was accompanied by senior members of the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment, including Permanent Secretary Cuthbert Knights.

The laboratory is home to a piece of equipment which is reportedly able to test the blood for a wide array of conditions.

Speaking on the services that the facility will hope to provide, the Prime Minister indicated, “This is a diagnostic facility, it’s a medical facility, it’s a treatment facility, we have the range of diagnostic services…We have the X-ray facilities, we have the laboratory facilities, which would support the other services which are delivered here, including surgery. You have seen the operating theatre. You have seen the area to address gastroenterology, there’s the dialysis, we have eight machines.” He also mentioned chemotherapy, physiotherapy, pharmaceutical services, ophthalmology and the Intensive Care Unit, among others.

Gonsalves indicated that it will be the first time that the state is offering some of the services, “The patients who want dialysis treatment, this is the only state facility, and it will be a state of the art facility for dialysis treatment in the country.”

He indicated that there are eight dialysis stations; six in one room for general use, while two are in another room to be used for patients with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Hepatitis.

Cuba, who provided the design for the Centre, will play an integral role in the initial staffing of the facility, with over 24 medical personnel having flown in.
The Prime Minister informed that these personnel will join local doctors and nurses, mostly from the surrounding areas, to form an initial staff number of 120, which may grow on demand to 173.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves standing in the new operating theatre at the Modern Medical Complex at Georgetown.

“There’re some specialist nurses where you may not have in the area, which would have to come from outside…,” he stated.

The medical personnel from Cuba, currently on call at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH), have also assisted in the process of the training the nurses already stationed in Georgetown on the use of the hi-tech machinery.

It was said that the compound spans 280,000 sq ft, and that, beyond the provision of treatment, laboratory and pharmaceutical services, the centre was built to be staff friendly, with changing and break rooms provided.

The diagnostic centre has 41 beds but, “it’s not intended that you’re going to have longer stay persons here. Any longer stay persons, we put them through here, and we have 25 beds here,” Gonsalves stated, while pointing to the adjoining Smart Hospital.

He indicated that the facility will be integrated with all other health facilities across the country, including the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital in Kingstown.

As such he explained that, if he were at the “Intensive Care [Unit] at Milton Cato, and they (the doctors) feel I’m coming out of the woods, so to speak, but they have somebody who needs the place there more urgently than [I], they can relocate me here. Or if I’m here, relocate me there.”

The immediate area that the complex may serve is expected to encompass, “40,000 persons from Biabou to Fancy. Of course it’s open for everybody from Fitzhughes, go right down to Campbell in Union Island.”

One of the four intensive care unit stations at the Modern Medical Complex

“There will be fees, we haven’t worked out yet, the Ministry of Health, they’re making recommendation,” Gonsalves informed.

He used dialysis as an example to show that treatment in the private sector may be expensive, coming up to $78,000 per year at a minimum.

“So it’s a very expensive treatment, but I will expect that the number here will come under that so that there will be some subsidy, but there will also be the need for cost recovery, otherwise the facility will not deliver what it has to do on a sustainable basis,” he continued.

Apart from the roof of the Smart hospital which needs to be redone, and the arrival of surgical kits, the facility seems to be ready to open, although a date has not yet been set.

The Prime Minister disclosed, “We were hoping that the surgical kits would have been here already, but probably another two weeks until the surgical kits arrive, and we don’t want to open it before the surgical kits arrive;…We want to make sure that the whole range of services that we are offering, and everything is in place.”