Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says provision will be made in the next budget for the construction of a new administrative wing at the St. Elizabeth Infirmary.
He explained that money already allocated for the project went towards the setting up of a centre on the grounds of the St. James Infirmary to accommodate persons who were abandoned at the Cornwall Regional Hospital.
With the renovation of the hospital under way, the patients had to be accommodated elsewhere.
“There was a need for us to assist the Ministry of Health in facilitating those patients… who had nowhere to go,” Minister McKenzie noted.
“I am, however, now committing that, in the new financial year, we will put back that $27 million for the construction of the new administrative wing,” he pledged.
He was speaking at the official opening of the new dining room at the infirmary located in Santa Cruz on November 10.
Minister McKenzie said it is the responsibility of the State in any self-respecting country to ensure that the elderly and the vulnerable are properly cared for, adding that “we never know where any of us will end up tomorrow”.
“Most persons who occupy these places are persons who have given yeoman service to this country,” he pointed out.
“They have served in varying capacities and were once taxpayers… . Some were teachers… some have contributed significantly to the development of our country. Some of them are here because they have fallen on hard times, and are left to the mercy of the State,” he pointed out.
“The Jamaican Government is committed to strengthening the social basket and to improve the facilities at the infirmaries, where quality service will be provided,” he added.
Minister McKenzie informed that the Administration has spent more than $150 million on building new facilities, noting that a number of them are on the verge of completion.
“We will also be spending another $47 million to build a brand-new female ward in Manchester,” he noted.
“We are presently building now, in St. James, the wing of the male ward. We are carrying out construction now in the parishes of St. Ann, Hanover (and) Manchester, where we are building what we call drop-in centres. This is also happening here in St. Elizabeth and St. Mary,” he indicated.