Good morning.

It is a part of the King’s House tradition that at this time of the year the Governor-General and First Lady visit and bring cheer to patients in hospitals across Jamaica.  Lady Allen and I are pleased to be carrying on that tradition and to convey to the patients our hope for their recovery and well being.   It is also a very good time for us to meet with the staff of the hospitals and to encourage you as you work to secure the health of our nation.  Very often we come away from these visits cheered ourselves by the people with whom we have interacted and heartened by the commitment of the members of staff to the wellbeing of their patients.

Today we are happy to be at the Kingston Public Hospital which enjoys a history dating back to 1776. What a history of resilience, survival and performance even under the most difficult of circumstances!

  • From humble beginnings at the corner of East and North Streets at what was a small hospital for slaves, KPH has become the largest multidisciplinary hospital in our health sector. It now enjoys the distinction of being the main provider of critical services such as haemodialysis, kidney transplant and radiotherapy in Jamaica and the English-speaking Caribbean.
  • Thanks to the hard working health professionals, in 2011 this trauma centre which is the largest of its kind in our public health system, provided a range of specialist, diagnostic, rehabilitative and curative services to approximately 260,000 patients from across the island. I would hazard a guess that the number increased this year.
  • Despite the known constraints, what this hospital is doing in Cardiology, Renal Care, and Oncology, to name a few fields, deserves the strongest commendation. I look forward to the completion of the renovation of your operating theatres not only for the good of your patients, but also because the quality of your health professionals demands the best possible facilities for their life-saving expertise.
  • I understand that generally your waiting list for surgeries is now at February 2014! So we can appreciate the urgency for the renovations of the operating theatres.
  • Other achievements such as the renovation of the Physiotherapy Department, the installation of a new radioactive source for the Cobalt Unit, will enable you to improve patient care.
  • KPH has also continued to be an excellent teaching hospital and the unfortunate testimony of this is the frequency with which your graduates are recruited by external agencies.
  • Despite reduced budgetary support, which is a source of frustration for all health professionals and the administrative leadership, you have achieved much. You have soldiered on in crisis mode, I understand, as a result of inadequate electrical power backup. You continue to struggle with seriously overcrowded wards, limited ICU facilities, unreliable diagnostic machines and inadequate water supplies.
  • I congratulate you heartily for the loyalty, commitment and professionalism you have demonstrated, especially as we know that those inadequacies were often exacerbated by security issues, based on the very location of this hospital.
  • Against that background, I am pleased that KPH has forged a number of valuable partnerships which have resulted in the donation of medical equipment and supplies to the Urology and Cardiology Departments and the regular provision of food by Food For the Poor.
  • I took special note of your collaboration with the Duncan Tree Foundation for conducting scoliosis implants and offering surgical devices for patients. I am confident that this collaborative effort will improve the clinical experiences of your medical and nursing staff, and facilitate KPH’s fulfillment of its mission to provide high quality preventative, curative, diagnostic, emergency and rehabilitative care to all it patients.
  • I commend those individuals, groups and organizations, as well as the Friends of the Hospital, who have formed faithful partnerships with you. The needs of KPH remain significant and so I encourage others to join them.
  • Your sister hospital, Victoria Jubilee, is considered as the cradle of the nation, as it is here that many Jamaicans take their first breath. In celebration of our fiftieth year of independence and the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth ll, Victoria Jubilee was one of two hospitals visited by Prince Harry during his visit to Jamaica in March this year. Visits to KPH and VJH by many prominent personalities attest to the favourable profile of these facilities.
  • I therefore encourage the communities surrounding the hospital to give the staff the necessary support so that they can fulfill their mission to provide quality health care in a secure environment.
  • For over two hundred years KPH has seen the transformation of Jamaica from slavery through to Independence and now, to our Golden Jubilee. This health institution is silent witness to the growth of the City of Kingston. It has suffered the impact of the negative side of that growth. Yet through the years, the staff has persisted and delivered quality health care to the people of Jamaica. You continue to respond effectively, even within the known limitations.
  • The care that you give to your patients especially at Christmas, when you would otherwise have been with your family, is highly appreciated. Thank you all for the service you give to Jamaica and for the many lives you have changed for the better through your service.
  • Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year and “May God bless us everyone”!