Negril gets multimillion-dollar private hospital

NEGRIL, Hanover — After years of the waiting, Negril has welcomed its first multimillion-dollar hospital.

Omega Medical Hospital, a private facility established by Jamaican-born doctor Dr Dale Foster and his Dr Barbadian wife Dr Sonja King Foster was officially opened on Friday.

“This facility is long overdue and it can’t come too soon. The community is really grateful that it is here and we are hoping to support it 100 per cent,” president of the Negril Chamber of Commerce, Elaine Allen Bradley told the Jamaica Observer at the launch.

In 1999, Dr Foster and his wife started a clinic in the resort town. Then Omega Medical Services Ltd was established in 2009 followed in 2014 by an ambulance service which operates in several sections of the island. In 2018, ground was broken for what was then a Medical Ambulatory Care Centre funded by the National Commercial Bank (NCB). At that time it was expected to cost US$2.7 million and was to be completed within a year. However, with the facility evolving into a hospital the cost has ballooned.

“I can’t give you a dollar figure, but this is in no way close to that number because they started out before I got here as an Ambulatory Care facility and not a hospital,” said the facility’s CEO Dr Dolton A James in response to questions from the Sunday Observer. “So, that dollar figure might not be enough for an Ambulatory Care Centre but now it is a hospital. That number can’t even buy the MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machine.”

The facility began seeing patients on December 1, 2022 after receiving final approval from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

The 14-bed hospital is equipped with a state-of-the-art operating theatre, a radiology department, an X-ray department, a laboratory and a pharmacy. It will provide primary to tertiary-level healthcare services to communities in and around Negril. The first surgery was done there on January 19.

Doctors James and Dale told the Sunday Observer that all lab tests are processed on location, a process that is done within hours.

“We are the only lab on this side of Jamaica that collects our samples and processes right here. So, it is a full lab. We don’t send our samples anywhere,” explained Dr James.

Among the specialised areas of service provided at the facility are orthopaedics, surgery, obstetrics, gynaecology, paediatrics and internal medicine.

Clinical Coordinator for the Government-operated Western Regional Health Authority, Dr Delroy Fray who was the guest speaker at the opening, spoke of the significance of the new facility, especially within the context of providing early intervention for trauma victims. He noted that the nearest hospitals to Negril are the Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital in Westmoreland’s capital and the Noel Holmes Hospital in Lucea, Hanover.

“You now realise the compromise that the patients here would have had because they would not have reached into intensive care within the golden hour. I want you to understand the significance of this hospital, Omega Medical,” he said. “That is going to transform trauma care in Western Jamaica to the highest level.”

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