The much anticipated and much delayed mini-hospital was finally officially opened at a grand ceremony as Prime Minister Perry Christie, along with long-time Abaco nurse Barbara Reckley cut the ribbons tied around the main entrance of the new Marsh Harbour Healthcare Centre. The Healthcare Centre begins taking customers today (April 20).
Construction began on the $12 million 32,000 square foot building in April of 2012 and was to be built over a 60 week (A year and two months) period. Technical problems and, more recently, construction issues delayed opening for five years.
Speaking to a large audience at the facility, Mr. Christie said renovations at the facility, which are valued at “roughly $1 million”, were a part of the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) plan to prepare the country for the full rollout of National Health Insurance (NHI) by creating and renovating infrastructure and providing more resources.
“In recent years, my government has spearheaded an intensive effort to reform our national health platform in an effort to realize the essential values of a modern public health system and that is access, quality, equity, affordability and sustainability,” said Mr. Christie.
“Following a long period of evaluation, examination, consultation and public discussion, my government has determined that the implementation of universal coverage through a phased National Health Insurance program is, in fact, the best and the most sustainable path towards the improvement of healthcare delivery in our nation.
“The initial rollout of our NHI program, as you would have heard, will focus on the delivery of primary care services through a network of public and private primary care centers.
“This has demanded a significant investment in resources in the renovation, refurbishment and upgrading of public health clinics all across our country.
“These improvements have been undertaken in order to ensure that these facilities meet the standard of the NHI program.”
Christie said a big part of effective healthcare is trying to prevent illnesses and diseases rather than simply treating or curing them. He said it is important for people of all ages to live and lead healthy lives.
Adamant that he was “not trying to be political”, the prime minister said whoever wins the upcoming general election ought to take the health of its citizens more seriously because our nation has too many cases of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, among other ailments.
In the event that he is re-elected as prime minister, he said he plans to build another similar facilities in Eleuthera, and fully open the facility in Exuma.
“In our country, it is important that if we are going to maintain the cost of NHI, for us to be more disciplined and committed to heathy lifestyles.