2013 Princess Margaret Hospital Christmas Visit

Address to be delivered to the health work force of the Princess Margaret Hospital during the Christmas visit by His Excellency Charles A. Savarin, D.A.H., President of the Commonwealth of Dominica on Thursday, 12th December 2013.

The Princess Margaret Hospital is our principal health care facility and therefore serves the entire country. Our patients and staff come from all over the island. Additionally there are technical assistance personnel from Cuba, Nigeria and other friendly countries. It is therefore a distinct pleasure for me to follow in the tradition of my predecessors in office, in using this time of year to interact with the patients and our country's healthcare workforce, and to extend Christmas Greetings to you all, and to all Dominicans at home and abroad. There is no other annual celebration which traditionally brings out the goodness in our people like the celebration of the birth of Christ.

Christmas is indeed a time for reflecting on the blessings of the past year. For all of us, Government and people and more particularly health care providers, it is a time to reflect on our achievements in health care delivery, and on the strides we have made in the care for the elderly in hospital, in the community through various institutions, and at their homes through the Yes We Care Program and the achievement in providing for the less fortunate and dependent members of our society. I believe that the best gift we can share with each other is that of a happy, healthy, and caring family, where support, love and empathy can be found in good times and in bad. No material gift can replace this true Dominican spirit. So, as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior with our friends and loved ones, let us remember that our health is our responsibility. We should therefore not indulge in activities and lifestyles or in the foods and drink that are detrimental to our health. We owe this to ourselves and to the wellbeing of our families and our beloved country.

We all know that these are challenging times locally, regionally and internationally, and that the effects will be felt in our health and social services. The continued delivery of safe and quality services to patients and clients is dependent, more than ever, on the professionalism and extra commitment of our healthcare professionals. Thanks to your hard work there have been considerable successes. I am aware of several initiatives that are currently underway to address the calls by many for additional facilities and further specialist care. These initiatives include an increase in tertiary care services through the engagements of visiting specialists; the implementation of strategic interventions that are geared at reducing neonatal and infant mortality through the European Union funded Dominica Reduction in Infant Mortality (D-RIM) Program; the procurement of an echocardiogram machine which effectively diagnoses abnormalities in the heart; the implementation of a "Clean Hands' program and an Infection Control and Prevention Performance Assessment Tool which seek to reduce the rates of infection at the PMH and ensure conformance with infection control guidelines, respectively.

I also note the development of written Protocols and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) which are expected to maintain standardized uniformity with the provision of health care; the piloting of the Risk Management Program which seeks to manage both clinical and non-clinical risks so as to increase the level of safety to personnel within the PMH; and the new modern and spacious Conference Room, housed in the APU building, which is equipped with amenities to facilitate meetings and video conferencing.

You will all be aware of the recent pronouncements made by the Honourable Prime Minister in his Independence Day Address, of the pieces of diagnostic equipment that have been procured and are expected to arrive on island by the end of this year. They are:

  • The new updated CT Scan machine which will assist with the diagnosis of medical conditions;
  • The Digital Mammogram machine which will assist in examining breast tissue for the diagnosis of breast cancer (this machine is currently at the PMH awaiting installation);
  • The Gastroscopy/Colonoscopy System which will assist with the diagnosis of abnormalities within the gastro intestinal tract (this piece of equipment is also currently at the PMH);
  • The Surgical Tower laparoscope which will allow minor and complex surgeries to be performed in the abdomen or pelvis through small incisions;
  • The Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan used to detect structural abnormalities of the body;
  • The expected procurement of orthopaedic equipment in the New Year 2014 which will allow bone surgeries to be performed here.

And most importantly you will also be aware of the project for the construction of a modern state of the art hospital in the New Year with grant funding provided by the Government of the People's Republic of China.

All of these pieces of equipment, together with the construction of the new hospital, seek to ensure that we bring better health services to the doorsteps of our people and to reduce the costs involved in having to access health care overseas.

Given the current global challenges, it can be said that we are making great strides in the area of health care. There is still however, much more work to be done and there will always be scope for improved levels of care. We are fortunate that there are a number of model health care professionals, especially nurses, who take great pride in their work and do not see it as any ordinary job but as a vocation; a job that calls for love, patience and compassion. These caring individuals undertake work that is sometimes beyond the call of duty and often unrecognized by those they care for and the community at large.

I am mindful of the complaints of shortcomings in service delivery at our health institutions and every effort is being made to address these. I wish nevertheless to take this opportunity to remind all gathered here, that the work you do on behalf of the citizenry is critical to the wellbeing of our nation. You are a vital key component to our health system.

As the year 2014 approaches, I am grateful for all that the Ministry of Health has accomplished, and we should all be excited by the plans and programs for the development of the health sector in the short to medium term. I look forward to the benefits that will come from our collective efforts to build a healthier and stronger Dominica.

I would like to take this opportunity to single out those medical professionals who have given more than twenty years of service to our people. Thank you for your professionalism, hard work and long and dedicated service to the PMH and Dominica. I further wish to single out those 12 student nurses who were successful at the Regional Nursing Examinations; please accept my sincere congratulations. I am particularly mindful of those of you who will be working over the Christmas period. On behalf of the Government, and on my own behalf, I say a special thank you for your service and professionalism. I know you will do all you can to continue to deliver safe and quality service at all times.

On behalf of my wife and myself, I wish each and every one a peaceful, blessed and Merry Christmas, and a prosperous, healthy and Happy New Year. May the good Lord continue to bless us all.

I thank you.

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