It may have taken 27 long years to complete, but the people of St John and the surrounding districts finally have their spanking new David Thompson Health and Social Services Complex.
And according to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, the opening of the multi-purpose facility at Glebe Land, St John will usher in a new era of health care delivery in Barbados.
He gave the assurance this afternoon as he officially opened the 7,760 square metre, state-of-the-art complex, almost three decades after the go-ahead was given for its construction.
“This has introduced a new dimension to the traditional model of primary health care delivery in Barbados – thanks to the all-embracing vision of the late Prime Minister, David Thompson, after whom this complex is now being named,” Stuart said to rapturous applause from the hundreds who gathered to witness the historic moment, which was also carried LIVE on State television.
Speaking before a host of dignitaries,including Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson, Bishop of Barbados Dr John Holder, Chief Executive Officer of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Dexter James and former Deputy Prime Minister Sir Philip Greaves, along with a host of Cabinet ministers and Opposition Shadow Spokeswoman for Health Dr Maria Agard – who was a stand out in the largely Government crowd – Stuart said the facility had been aptly named after Thompson because he had shown tremendous dedication in seeing the project up and running.
“It was Mr Thompson who initiated the plan and again on becoming Prime Minister in 2008, it was he who resumed the leadership of the crusade for the polyclinic’s construction.
“Its conclusion today not only demonstrates his commitment to, but also testifies to his love for the people of this constituency, a love shared by the party which he was a proud member from a young age,” he noted.
“Despite many obstacles he was determined that the people of St John should have the best quality environment in which to receive health care.”
Thompson passed away in 2010 while in office.
The new complex is equipped with an ambulance bay, pharmacy, laboratory, rehabilitation therapy, family planning services, ante-natal and post-natal care, library, welfare office, an amphitheatre, a constituency council, as well as a gym.
It will also cater to residents from St Joseph, St Philip and St George.
Additionally, Stuart revealed that Med Data Barbados – an electronic system used to store the medical data of patients – which was launched in 2014, would be used from Monday when the new complex opens it doors to its first patients.
“I am pleased to say that from the start-up of this complex, Med Data will be in use, allowing doctors, nurses and medical records personnel to be making appointments for patient visits to the clinics, sending prescriptions to the pharmacists and documenting patient visits appropriately.
“This will eliminate time wastage and misplaced records and will improve overall efficiency in patient management,” the Prime Minister revealed.
Minister of Health John Boyce said the opening of the health institution was welcomed, as it would help to take the strain off the QEH.
“Since the polyclinics also function to provide assessment, treatment and referral to secondary or tertiary care at the QEH, we expect that an additional polyclinic will bring about some reduction in the number of clients who are actually seen in the Accident and Emergency Department at the QEH.
“This is expected to result in improved cost efficiencies with better utilization of human, financial and capital resources,” Boyce acknowledged.
Parliamentary representative for the area and Thompson’s widow Mara Thompson admitted that the moment was a bitter-sweet one for her.
She referred to the complex as “more than a polyclinic”, calling it a “trans-generational multi-purpose facility”.
Thompson also used the occasion to thank her constituents for their patience over the years.
“I admit that it is with a tinge of sadness, but also with great satisfaction that I stand here this afternoon as we gather to engage in the opening of this facility,” she said.
“I am aware of the discomfort that you endured with uncomfortable and outdated facilities at Gall Hill, as well as the taunts and ridicule that came from the political arena. And I thank you for your unstinting loyalty,” she said.
The opening ceremony also featured performances by students of the St John’s Primary, a stirring solo from Karimah Holder and an entertaining rhythm poetry piece by Dario Walrond.
Shortly before the completion of the hour-long event, Stuart and Boyce unveiled the plaque to the complex’s entrance to loud cheers.
That was followed by Thompson and her daughter Osa-Marie unveiling the name of the complex, while her oldest daughter Oya cut the ribbon.