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 our patients her this morning best wishes and 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.  Each year we visit at least four of our hospitals and very often we come away from these visits ourselves being buoyed up 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 it’s a pleasure to be with you in Savanna-la-mar Public General Hospital whose early beginning we understand dates back to a little over one hundred years ago as a medical facility for the care of indentured East Indians who were working on neighbouring sugar estates. The new hospital was constructed due to the generosity of many, and this facility was officially opened in July of 1964.  It marked a new era in what has been a history of resilience, survival and performance even under the most difficult of circumstances.

The Labour Movement had it’s beginning in Westmoreland.  We are grateful to this parish for the birth of the true Jamaican spirit.  We don’t roll over but we persevere, as the saying goes ” If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again”. From a few barracks where indentured workers were detained and given medical care when they became ill, the Savanna-la-mar Hospital is now the only Type B hospital in the Western Region serving this parish and the adjoining parishes of St. Elizabeth, Hanover and St. James.

It is good that this hospital provides a fairly wide range of services which bring quality health care closer to the people of these parishes.    In 2011 the critical needs and services it offers serves over 43,000 persons who were treated in your Accident and Emergency Department.

I commend all the staff of the Savanna-la-mar Hospital for the great job you are doing as you improve the levels of patient care being offered.  You have included in your service to the people, services that are well needed such as laparoscopic surgery, placed trained Emergency Nurses in the A&E Department and modernized the methodology of anaesthetic care for maternal patients.  No doubt mothers and their care-givers welcome the refurbishing of the Labour and Delivery Suite.  And most certainly, communities which you serve must be very pleased by the addition of a multiple-patient transport unit to the transportation fleet.

These communities can also look forward to the construction of a new accident and emergency ward and the installation of new operating theater room as part of your vision going forward. This is good not only for your patients, but I believe that the quality of your health professionals demands the best possible facilities for their life-saving expertise.

  • It is anticipated that as your services become more specialized and with the upgrades that are being contemplated for the hospital, your patient load in the coming years could significantly increase.
  • You will also have to be strategic in the tourism sector. You are strategically located within the tourism belt from Black River to Negril. During the lifetime of this hospital, tourism in this region has grown significantly. That’s not surprising given the number of attractions and the rich heritage located in these parishes. No doubt you have had to, and will continue to care for visitors who either become ill or suffer accidents on our roads. Until Negril Hospital is built you will have to take care of the overflows.

I hope that you will be successful in your efforts to recruit additional competent staff in critical areas such as orthopaedics, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology and general surgery, so that you can reduce the number of transfers to the Cornwall Regional Hospital.

  • As the demand for improved services increases,bathe reality of budgetary support continues affecting the public health sector all across the island, I note your creativity in dealing with the challenges. You have created partnerships such as the Jamaica Public Service Company, thereby securing an uninterruptible source of electrical power; with the California Awareness Group and with the Clinton Foundation Health Access initiative. I also note your partnership with the Negril International Hospital. Mr. Wellington, I commend you and your team for your contribution to and recognition of the needs of this hospital. I Congratulate too Singer and other corporate sponsors who ensure that Jamaica operates efficiently. I commend these partners for the service they are rendering in this region and the positive difference they are making to so many lives. The Savanna-la-mar Hospital will always have needs and so I encourage others to join them. As the saying goes “one one coco full basket”.

Deep down in the heart of every Jamaican is a caring spirit. We are a great people and must be proud of who we are-committed, hardworking, pushing with the last ounce of reserve to get to the finish line. Similarly, there are students who go to school without breakfast or lunch money, yet they preserve. They know that “a good education will never decay”.

  • I understand that you have challenges with:

o inadequate space, which has resulted in overcrowding, o the absence of an integrated communication system, o inadequate ambulance service, o and issues relating to security.

  • The challenges are sometimes exacerbated as you seek to enhance challenges as you seek to enhance your delivery of quality patient care. Yet you remain motivated to serve. Thank you for the loyalty, commitment and professionalism you have demonstrated despite the limitations you face on a daily basis.
  • As you give your care during the christmas season to our patients especially, when you would have otherwise been with your family, this is highly appreciated.
  • Best wishes for the holidays and a bright prosperous and healthy New Year. May God bless Jamaica Land We Love as we seek to make vision 2030 a reality. Then we can all celebrate and say yes we achieved and we have reached developed nation status. God bless us all.