Several fundamental projects, at varying stages of completion, are in progress at the Bustamante Hospital for Children in St. Andrew, to improve offerings to patients as well as preserve the legacy of the premier paediatric institution in the Caribbean.
Outlining some of the projects, Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, said these include the implementation of an electronic health-record system, the buildout of an overnight parent suite, introduction of the animal-assisted recovery programme, renovating the waiting area for Accident and Emergency (A&E) as well as the provision of additional bed spaces.
He was speaking at the media launch of the hospital’s 60th anniversary celebrations at the institution’s premises, on Arthur Wint Drive, on April 13.
Dr. Tufton said implementation of an electronic health record system will take the hospital as well as other facilities across the island into the modern era.
“We talk about the need for technology. The ultimate technology is creating a virtual space for patient records to be logged for telemedicine to be activated for reduction of transaction time and transaction cost, so that we can optimise the efficiency when a patient comes in.” he argued.
Dr. Tufton said the buildout of the overnight suite is an essential part of a modern paediatric institution.
“We must celebrate the fact that the vision is there and we are actually building that out. In every modern society, you make some provision for the primary caregiver to be there to give critical support,” he said.
The Minister further noted that the launch of the animal-assisted recovery and care programme is expected to have benefits for both patient and healthcare staff.
“It is a proven clinical fact that in every modern healthcare facility in any progressive society in the world, the interaction between man and dogs or animals can provide critical therapeutic value.
Bustamante would not preserve its legacy if it did not seek to embrace this new approach. That’s a positive development for the future,” he said.
The Animal Assisted Recovery and Care (AARC) Pilot Project was launched in December 2022 and aims to provide comfort and aid in the recovery of the paediatric patients undergoing surgery or medical treatment at the facility.
Additionally, Dr. Tufton said the waiting area at the A&E Department is being renovated in partnership with the National Health Fund (NHF).
“A renovated improved waiting area for A&E is essential; that is progress and that is now taking place,” he said.
He noted, too, that the introduction of a special programme that is attempting to deal with the impact of COVID and its effect on the mental health of children during the periods of restriction is crucial.
“That suggests progress, and I commend the staff here for thinking through that and have now implemented it,” Dr. Tufton said.
He added that the introduction of the 100 additional beds is critical to the delivery of service to patients.
Other speakers at the function included Senior Medical Officer, Bustamante Hospital for Children, Dr. Michelle-Ann Richards Dawson; Chairman of the Hospital Management Committee, Dr. Kenneth Benjamin; Denese Dacres-Reeves of Friends of the Bustamante Hospital for Children; Board Chairman, South East Regional Health Authority, Wentworth Charles; Chairperson for the Planning Committee, 60th Anniversary, Bustamante Hospital for Children, Dr. Brian James and Director of Nursing Services, Bustamante Hospital for Children, Beverley Senior Berry.
The Bustamante Hospital for Children will stage a slate of activities leading up to the 60th anniversary date on Monday, November 6, 2023, including an open day and health fair, May 31; a sports day, October 19; a church service, November 5; the Dr. Leila Wynter commemorative conference, November 12; and a staff awards ceremony, November 18.
The hospital was officially opened on November 6, 1963 by the Most Hon. Gladys Maud Bustamante, wife of Jamaica’s first Prime Minister, and National Hero, the Rt. Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante, after whom the hospital was named.
The facility has the distinction of being the only special paediatric hospital in the English-speaking Caribbean.
It has a bed capacity of 279, including a five-bed intensive-care unit that provides critical-care services to critically ill patients. The Accident and Emergency Department operates on a 24-hour basis and sees approximately 50,000 patients per year. In addition, specialist clinics are held five days per week in the outpatient department, with approximately 35,000 clinic visits annually.
Among the services offered are anaesthesiology, cardiology, neurology, child mental health, cardiothoracic surgery, dermatology, paediatric surgery, paediatric urology, orthopaedics, physiotherapy, ears, nose and throat, dental, pulmonology, radiology, ophthalmology, haematology and oncology. The hospital also has a burn unit.