The rerouting of ring road at the University Hospital of the West Indies, UHWI, is now out to tender as plans ramp for the phased development of five structures, referred to as medical towers, that will allow for additional student intake and overhaul the workflow at the teaching hospital.
In addition to the bid invitations, Minister of Health and Wellness said the rerouting will be done this year and that that area is also being cleared for construction.
The UHWI has disclosed a budget of US$31.6 million for hard construction and US$2 million for professional services for the full project, which translates to nearly $5.2 billion in Jamaican currency. Funding for the project, which is aimed at modernising the old teaching hospital on a phased basis, is being done through the University of the West Indies, UWI.
For the current year, the Jamaican Government has allocated $530 million towards the modernisation project to facilitate construction of the first medical tower plus other amenities.
The UHWI will “hopefully, tender for the building next year”, Tufton said in relation to the first medical tower.
The UWI medical faculty, with which the UHWI is integrated, currently comprises departments related to child and adolescent health; community health and psychiatry with its public health, family medicine, psychiatry and community health centre units; microbiology; obstetrics and gynaecology; pathology; SURRADIC, which comprises surgery, radiology, anaesthesia, intensive care, and emergency medicine; the schools of dentistry, medical radiation technology and nursing; and the clinical research unit, among others.
The UWI has a population of 50,000, of which medical students still comprise a tiny fraction, although for years, the university has discussed the possibility of recruiting medical students from the United States and elsewhere to boost those numbers.
“We are being aggressive in terms of recovering our numbers,” said UWI Registrar Donovan Stanberry in an interview last week.
“The Medical Faculty can accommodate 280 students, and we are nowhere near there,” he said.
Stanberry said the UWI has launched its online metaverse, a recruitment tool that has proven effective and remains online on YouTube so that students globally can see the matriculation requirements for every faculty; and otherwise stepped up its presence on social media.
The hospital, which is searching for a new CEO, outlined in its recruitment advertisement its aims to overhaul teaching, research, and healthcare delivery through its 584-bed facility, saying that right now, the facility is seen as “fragmented and not coordinated like a modern hospital”.
In February 2023, the associated school, the UWI, announced a new pact with the Pan American Health Organization to develop a long-range plan for the strengthening and expansion of the functions of the Faculty of Medicine.
Subject to its budgetary limitations, PAHO, for its part, is to provide personnel for periodic advisory services, technical assistance, and as short-term consultants.
The university has the responsibility to prepare and train physicians through its Faculty of Medicine at Mona, Cave Hill, and St Augustine on behalf of contributing territories Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, British Honduras, The British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts-Nevis, Anguilla, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, plus students from Guyana.
The hospital currently has a workforce of 2,476, including 651 doctors, 921 nurses, and 904 allied workers.