GIS: Government Also Intends to Introduce A National Health Insurance Programme.
Prime Minister Hon. Allen Chastanet and Minister for Health and Wellness, Sen. Hon. Mary Isaac, formally launched the brand new dialysis unit at the Owen King European Union Hospital on Jan 24.
The launch signifies a major step toward transitioning the Victoria Hospital to the Owen King EU Hospital.
For many, the long-awaited opening of the dialysis unit at the hospital was long overdue. At the soft launch of the unit, Consultant Nephrologist, Dr. Merle Clarke, expressed her gratitude on behalf of the staff and in particular the clients for whom the dialysis unit is a lifeline.
“It is indeed an historic day,” she said. “A day when we plan not only to celebrate but it’s a time also to reminisce, a time to recognize hard work and sacrifice and everything it has taken to get us here today, and a time when we say thank you, when we offer thanks for our new premises, our new home. The fact that we have been able to operate out of our old unit at the Victoria Hospital for the past few years is nothing short of miraculous. It is testimony to the dedication and the sacrifices made by not only staff but our patients. It really is testimony to the resilience of everyone.”
Twelve new dialysis machines are in operation at the EU Hospital, and government has promised increased capacity with the procurement of new machines earmarked to replace the old unit at the Victoria Hospital.
President of the Renal Association, Nadia Weeks, said the increased capacity will significantly address the infamous waiting list of persons in urgent need of dialysis.
“I am very happy that we no longer have to turn people away,” she said. Because for somebody [new to get treated] on dialysis somebody [else] has to die and that is the reality. So I am very happy that right now there is increased capacity. There are many people who are impacted by dialysis or by kidney failure and I am very happy that we can have this conversation.”
Prime Minister, Hon. Allen Chastanet, said the opening of the unit meant a great deal to him personally.
“This is a really huge day, and a very important milestone in the history of Saint Lucia,” he said. “For me personally, it’s emotional.”
The prime minister said that government intends to introduce a national health insurance programme.
“The idea that people were scared to come to hospitals or go to doctors because they simply couldn’t afford it would be a thing of the past. Every single Saint Lucian would have access to the healthcare system. That is what is important. We can’t no longer pat ourselves on the shoulder because we’ve improved services to some or to most; it has to be a system in which we provide it to every single Saint Lucian who must have access to that healthcare system, and so, the only way in our minds to achieve that is through a national healthcare insurance, to make sure that every single Saint Lucian has insurance.”
Minister for Health and Wellness, Sen. Hon. Mary Isaac, thanked her staff for their dedication, commitment and hard work in making the opening of the dialysis unit a reality.
“You put your best foot forward and put your shoulders to the wheel when it was most necessary and as a result we have accomplished the operationalizing of the dialysis unit of EU Hospital. This is definitely your success, it is our success, it is the success of the government and people of Saint Lucia.”
Although the healthcare sector will have additional dialysis capacity, health officials reiterate that prevention of conditions which lead to renal failure is paramount for Ministry of Health and Wellness, though the strengthening of primary healthcare services.