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HEALTH MINISTER SAYS NEWLY RENOVATED WEST END CLINIC HAS COME A LONG WAY SINCE 1959

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A key feature of the newly renovated West End Clinic is the provision of an ambulance, which will afford 24-hour EMS services to the residents of West End. “This marks the first time a state of the art ambulance with a crew of trained NEMS technicians will be stationed here,” said Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Duane Sands. “What this means is that we will be able to improve response times to emergency calls for residents of West Grand Bahama.” The Health Minister, who was one of the guest speakers at the commissioning ceremony of the expanded West End Community Clinic on Friday, October 6, 2017, said that the Government’s efforts to further health development on the nation’s second most populous island has culminated in the commissioning of the expanded community clinic. He pointed out that the project was built at a cost of over $2 million. “That is what it cost to transform the two pre-existing structures on this property into a single 6,348 square-foot modern health center,” said Minister Sands. “Indeed, the expansion of the clinic has doubled its capacity, and patients will experience an enhanced environment that offers additional and improved services.” The expanded clinic includes a dedicated trauma area, increased examination and treatment rooms, upgraded dental suites, a fully outfitted staff training room, on-call and National Emergency Medical Services-ready rooms, and a refurbished two-bedroom residence, to accommodate nursing staff.

According to the Health Minister, the West End Clinic will offer primary care, as well as improved dental care and trauma services to the people of West Grand Bahama. He noted that a newly acquired portable digital X-ray machine will allow emergency patients off-site access to radiology services. “The growth and development of health infrastructure and services here in Grand Bahama and across the Family Islands reflects the evolving nature of healthcare and the continually expanding demand for health services by the public,” said Minister Sands. “We know that community health clinics provide primary health care as the entry point into the health system. These clinics also serve as the coordinators of care and services across the health system. In recent years, significant investments have been made and continue to be made to repair, expand and upgrade public health facilities, to improve access to services by expanding hours of operation in locations more convenient for patients.” Additionally Minister Sands noted that emergency medical services on the island of Grand Bahama have increased over time to a current staffing level of 29, including 16 trained emergency service technicians and paramedics, and a fleet of six modern emergency service vehicles. Minister Sands pointed out that on the very site where the newly expanded West End Clinic has been built, the Government of The Bahamas established the first public clinic on the island of Grand Bahama in 1959.

He noted that since that time the Rand Memorial hospital has evolved into an essential lynchpin in the public health platform, providing hospital-based care to the residents of the entire Northern Bahamas. “Its services include a modern emergency room and urgent care center, 21st Century surgical facilities, a psychiatric ward, obstetrics & gynecology services as well as rehabilitation and out-patient services. The hospital, together with the National Emergency Medical Services and nine outlying community health clinics across Grand Bahama and its adjacent cays, with this facility being one of them, forms the local health system known as The Grand Bahama Health services, or GBHS, operating under the Public Hospitals Authority,” said Minister Sands. The Health Minister commended the Public Hospitals Authority, as well as those contracted to execute the significant construction and engineering works for the expanded West End Clinic. He noted that on a previous trip to Grand Bahama, he had the opportunity to tour the newly expanded, fully revitalized public health clinic and can say with confidence that the new facility represents a job well done on behalf of the Bahamian people.

PM OFFICIALLY COMMISSIONS WEST END COMMUNITY CLINIC

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Tele-health technology will enable patients to be seen in any clinic or hospital in The Bahamas and doctors will be able to have access to their records, Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Dr. the Hon. Hubert A. Minnis, said during the Commissioning Ceremony for the West End Community Clinic on Friday, October 6, 2017. Over $2 million was spent on the refurbishment, expansion and modernization of the public health clinic that will service residents and visitors in West Grand Bahama. “This facility will serve as a critical element in Grand Bahama’s local health system, providing essential primary care, pre-hospital and emergency care, in a facility of which every Bahamian can be proud.” With residents having awaited for the clinic to be completed, the Prime Minister said it was even more significant when the impact of Hurricane Matthew is considered. “Ladies and gentlemen, it is simple axiom that has proven true over time, ‘a government’s spending reflects a government’s priorities.’
“The construction and commissioning of this facility, therefore, speaks to the prioritization of healthcare development. “Healthcare, like education, national security, and the social safety net, are essential elements of national development that benefit individuals directly, while enhancing the quality of life for all Bahamians, and the future development of the nation we all love.” As a small island nation where the delivery of essential services presents challenges, opportunities should be embraced to maximize the scarce resources.

In order to do this, a focus on sustainable development is necessary “and the flexibility to embrace innovations that will allow us to do more with limited resources. “One such innovation that continues to have the potential to be a game-changer in the delivery of care across our country is tele-health technology.” As the then Minister of Health in 2007, continued the Prime Minister, he explained that he had the opportunity to launch the first tele-medicine pilot project in the country via the Public Hospitals Authority. This project linked the clinic in Marsh Harbour, Abaco with the Princess Margaret Hospital Emergency Room. “Ten years later, we are on the cusp of a revolution, where tele-health technologies are poised to enhance the delivery of primary care services, national emergency medical services, and radiology services to Bahamians, and residents throughout our archipelago. “Indeed, right here in Grand Bahama, patients and their physicians in the Family Medical Programme, made history as part of a short-term study on the implementation of tele-health within the primary care environment.” The patients involved were in a position to upload the results of daily self-tests for weight, blood pressure, blood glucose or cholesterol to their doctor in real time, following a brief orientation. The tests were administered by each patient in their home using the devices and without having to visit the doctor’s office or clinic. The results were evaluated, recorded by a healthcare professional and this permitted tracking and compliance, empowering the patients to improve their own health. This also allowed the doctor to contact the patient if it became necessary, via video chat. “In terms of public health, my Government will focus extensively on the prevention and treatment of chronic non-communicable diseases, like diabetes and hypertension.”

More needs to be done to combat these diseases that rob too many people of general health and their lives. Such diseases place a tremendous burden on the health care system of the country. “Another innovation that will allow for a transformation in how we deliver care is our progress in implementing a National Electronic Medical Records System.” This system will link public clinics and hospitals digitally so that no matter where the patient is seen, their medical records will be accessed instantly. “This will enhance the delivery of care in our hospitals and clinics, improving transitional care between facilities and services, while expanding avenues for medical research. “It is in this environment of forward thinking, and healthcare innovation, that we have gathered today to celebrate the commissioning of the West End Community Clinic. “This facility will serve as a hub for comprehensive promotional, preventative, curative and rehabilitative care for the communities of Western Grand Bahama.” The Prime Minister thanked all those responsible for making the day a reality. Following the Prime Minister’s remarks, Canon Curtis Robinson, Rector of St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church, blessed the clinic just before the unveiling of the plaque and the cutting of the ribbon. Also participating in the unveiling of the plaque was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest; and 99-year-old Aleisha Thompson, the oldest resident of West End, assisted with the cutting of the ribbon.

Also in attendance were: Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Duane Sands; Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator the Hon. Kwasi Thompson; Parliamentary Secretary for Information and Communications in the Office of the Prime Minister and Member of Parliament for West Grand Bahama and Bimini, Mrs. Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe; Vice-Chairman of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Sarah St. George; former MP for the area and former Minister of Tourism, Obie Wilchcombe; senior government officials and members of the public. The delegation took a tour of the renovated facility and then participated in a brief reception before the Prime Minister left for Nassau to attend a Cabinet Meeting to deal with issues facing Grand Bahama.

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