NASSAU, The Bahamas – The opening of the two newly constructed community health centres in Exuma and Abaco will reduce the “social, financial and time burdens” of residents in those areas who now have to travel to New Providence to seek care, Minister of Health Dr. the Hon. Perry M. Gomez said. Both facilities are scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of “the new budget year.”

Dr. Gomez said telemedicine will play an important role in the provision of services to persons utilising the facilities. 

“These new community health centres are like mini-hospitals in that they are equipped with additional facilities not usually found in our clinics such as an operating theatre, laboratory and X-Ray services,” Dr. Gomez said. 

“The benefit for the residents of Exuma and Abaco will be great. The introduction of these services means that the patients do not have to disrupt their lives by leaving their families to travel to New Providence.”  Dr. Gomez said the opening of the facilities will also have implications for the Princess Margaret Hospital.  “What this means is that the Princess Margaret Hospital would be able to improve its services as there will be fewer referrals and a reduction in the need for diagnostic tests in Nassau,” Dr. Gomez said.  “It is intended that diagnostics will be done and read on the island and, only if necessary, patients will be referred to Nassau for diagnosis. Above all, the patient will not have the unnecessary financial burden of travel and accommodations while away from home.”  Dr. Gomez said plans are underway for the construction of similar facilities in Central Eleuthera and Cat Island as well as a new clinic in Rock Sound, Eleuthera. 

The Health Minister said just five percent of patients seen at the primary healthcare level are admitted to hospitals.  “The Government’s aim is to reduce the number of persons who go to the Accident and Emergency Department at the Princess Margaret Hospital through providing services for them at the primary care level, and eventually, to move primary health care services to an appointments-based system so that patients would not have to leave home to arrive at the clinic at some ungodly hour to get a number in order to receive healthcare.”  Dr. Gomez said health officials are also working to replace several of the existing community clinics in Grand Bahama, including those in areas such as Hawksbill Creek, West End and High Rock.  “These facilities are no longer adequate to meet the growing needs of the people and my Government will move with haste to bring relief to the people who reside in, and visit, Grand Bahama.”  Dr. Gomez said between 2002-2007, the Christie Administration acquired a 50-acre Greenfield site for the construction of a new hospital in Grand Bahama. 

“As promised, we are currently exploring avenues for the construction of a new hospital facility in Grand Bahama,” Dr. Gomez said. “I am particularly pleased to announce that the PHA, in collaboration with the Ministry for Grand Bahama and other important stakeholders, will carry out a comprehensive assessment of the healthcare needs of the communities in Grand Bahama so as to ensure that Grand Bahamians receive the same high level of attention and focus as afforded those of us who reside in New Providence.”