Preliminary plans are in place for the construction of a new state-owned geriatric hospital and the demolition of the existing Beckles Road, St. Michael facility.
In fact, Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic has not ruled out the possibility of also constructing a facility to house elderly tourists and expats for extended periods as a boost to this island’s tourism offerings.
While speaking with reporters after a presentation at the Jama Mosque on Kensington New Road, The City, he made the disclosure and added that the Minister of Finance, Economic Affairs and Investment is reviewing the project.
“It is something that as Minister of Health and Wellness, I am looking forward to and that is because I believe that we have not really utilised what the Lord has given us to full effect. We have an ageing population. Per capita, only Okinawa in Japan has more centenarians than Barbados,” said Bostic.
He added: “We have an excellent climate; we are a tourist destination of choice, so it seems to me as though we ought to invest in our elderly care facilities to make Barbados a hub for elderly tourists and persons who want to rehabilitate, to be able to come to Barbados in this pleasant climate with our very nice people and that will bring some much needed revenue into the country.”
The Health Minister could not provide a timeline for the project’s commencement or a period for construction. When asked to confirm rumours that the new facility would be located in St. George, he could neither confirm nor deny.
He however expressed his desire to see the construction of a rehabilitation centre to treat the growing number of non communicable disease (NCD) victims.
“This country needs a national rehabilitation centre, especially with the number of stroke victims, accident victims, diabetics and amputees and we do not have the capacity at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) or at any of our institutions to fully be able to handle this development,” Bostic revealed.
He added: “The plan is afoot and we are in the process of trying to determine how we would manage that eventuality when it comes.”
In August 2018, members of the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) started a five-month renovation programme to improve the physical conditions for the over 250 residents at the Beckles Road facility.
At the time, Hospital Manager Heather Payne-Drakes, said the hospital was “quite dated” and had encountered leakages and also had some malfunctioning windows and doors.