A team of officials from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), the European Union (EU) and health specialists from neighbouring Martinique, met with officials of the Ministry of Health on a two day visit to explore areas of cooperation as the government of Saint Lucia moves closer to commissioning the Owen King EU Hospital (OKEUH).
Accompanying the team is Yves Vignau, former Director of C.H.U. Hospitals of Bordeaux in France who will be working closely with the commissioning team for the OKEUH. Vignau brings with him a wealth of knowledge having managed the transitioning of larger hospitals in France.
In welcoming Mr. Vignau and the team of officials, Minister for Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relations, Hon. Alvina Reynolds, expressed her profound gratitude on behalf of the Prime Minister and Cabinet of Ministers for the offer of assistance from a hospital expert with such a wealth of experience.
“For us the excitement is grand Mr. Vignau. It’s a major facility that we’re commissioning. We’re excited and we want to make sure that we do it right. We understand that you have great experience in the field in working in a space like France where you have the best of the best as it pertains to facilities, as it pertains to everything. And so we are embracing you because we really want to learn from your experience. The French and the EU have invested allot in the hospital and health care for us and there is a good relationship between Martinique and Saint Lucia and it strengthens what we have done for the people of Saint Lucia.” Reynolds stated.
Liure Garancher, PAHO’s Adviser for the French Department of the Americas, said one of the major areas of assistance from PAHO will be in training staff to fully utilize the new and advanced pieces of equipment currently installed at OKEUH.
“There is a team of French specialists who just visited the nice, new hospital to see how they can provide technical support…In Victoria Hospital you have one type of equipment and here you have something new which we are also using in Martinique. So training might be a big area for support where we would be able to receive people from Saint Lucia in Martinique to train on the actual equipment that we have and to see how they are functioning after the hospital is actually opened.”
The PAHO Official indicated that the training will be for a period of three months after which other areas of cooperation can be identified. With Martinique and Saint Lucia being so close geographically, she anticipates even more exchanges going forward.
Mr. Vignau who will effectively function as a consultant to the Owen King EU Hospital Commissioning Team had the opportunity to tour both the Victoria and Owen King EU Hospital.
“PAHO asked me to help in the opening of a new structure, a very important one and I am really excited by this project and what I have seen today is really amazing and is really a splendid realization and an opportunity for this island; and not only for this island but for the World Health Organization in the Caribbean Area.” Vignau said.
New Commissioning Director for Owen King EU Hospital, Dwight Calixte acknowledged that Saint Lucia is actively exploring increased areas of cooperation with the French. He said EU and PAHO have come on board as partners for this initiative to ensure the proper training of staff as well as look into any possibility of additional equipment being provided.
“As we’re moving forward now towards the intentional opening of the hospital, it becomes very important for us to make sure the essential processes, experiences, personnel, equipment is in place as we’re going forward.”
Calixte indicated that there currently exists a draft agreement between the Ministry of Health and the delegation in areas of training such as ICU, A&E and sterilization which he says is absolutely necessary for opening a facility of this size.
“You would well appreciate that within here, you have new areas of functionality which did not exist in our previous location. And moving forward we are looking at tapping into the experience of the French in their own areas to provide that assistance. So presently the agreement has been accepted in principle and they are actually exploring the possibility of engaging us in ensuring that this happens before the opening of the hospital, sometime later this year.”
Calixte added that transitioning plans have been progressing quite well and the public can soon expect a romped up education/sensitization campaign on all the activities and plans that are necessary to open the new hospital.
“It is not a turnkey and we move in. It is a very detailed and comprehensive approach to opening the facility to ensure that there are no casualties when we open.” Calixte stated.