A 40-bed mobile field hospital, donated by the United States (US) Government, was officially opened at the May Pen Hospital in Clarendon on Wednesday (September 15).
The US$850,000 facility, which is equipped with a generator, is the second provided by the US for coronavirus (COVID-19) patients. The other field hospital has been relocated to the Spanish Town Hospital in St. Catherine from its original site at the National Chest Hospital in St. Andrew.
The donation forms part of US Southern Command’s (USSOUTHCOM) ongoing assistance to nations in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America and is funded by the Command’s Humanitarian Assistance Program (HAP).
Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, expressed gratitude on behalf of the Government, noting that the support shows the strength of the relationship between the countries and the collaboration that is necessary to tackle COVID-19.
He said that the Government is looking to boost capacity through the addition of some 350 beds across the island, and the field hospitals “will help us to move forward”.
Dr. Tufton noted that the ongoing support from the US, including the donation of medical equipment and supplies, provides an opportunity for the country to build out post-COVID.
“We have been using the COVID experience to plan more strategically as to how we can build resilience from a public health perspective into the medium and longer term,” he noted.
Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Kingston, John McIntyre, in his remarks said that the field hospital will enhance the Government’s ability to respond to the global pandemic, and disaster response and mitigation post pandemic.
He noted that the US Government’s support for Jamaica’s COVID-19 response and mitigation began in March 2020 when the virus began to impact the Caribbean and has continued throughout the nearly 20 months that the two countries have been fighting the pandemic.
“This donation underscores the enduring partnership between the US and Jamaica and our long history of family ties, friendship and support and cooperation. As a good neighbour, the United States will always be ready to respond to regional disasters and we will do whatever it takes to protect both US and Jamaican citizens,” he pledged.
Mr. McIntyre noted that, to date, the US government has donated more than US$12 million in COVID-related assistance to Jamaica, including USAID’s announcement that it will provide an additional $5.2 million to advance vaccination and strengthen health systems to diagnose, manage and mitigate COVID-19 transmission.
He said that support will also be provided for testing and identifying variants circulating in Jamaica, through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
“We are also helping with the procurement of a genome sequencing platform for Jamaica,” he said, adding that the country is also scheduled to receive a second shipment of vaccines.