Portmore mayor hopes public hospital will be a reality

Portmore mayor hopes public hospital will be a reality

Ian Allen Leon Thomas (right), mayor of Portmore, mixes mortar to erect a sign that directs Portmore citizens to the evacuation route in case of an emergency. The Portmore Municipality erected 10 signs across Portmore, costing over J$950,000, on Tuesday, June 16. Portmore’s first citizen, Mayor Leon Thomas, is hoping to deliver on the long-talked-about construction of a major public hospital for the municipality and is taking steps to make it a reality.He said the physical development of the dormitory community – the largest of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean – is needed now more than ever. “There is a need for the construction of such a hospital. Portmore is ever growing in population and we need to keep pace with the physical infrastructure, and key to this is a proper public hospital facility,” Thomas said.“When constructed, this hospital should befit the status of the municipality as we improve the lives of all our citizens,” he added.Thomas is not the first mayor to talk glowingly of a much-needed hospital for the 13-community municipality. As far back as 2006, then Portmore mayor, the late George Lee, said it was his wish to have a 300-room hospital constructed. He never disclosed what type of medical facility was needed for the sprawling dormitory community, and when Lee passed away in 2013, it appeared he took his dream with him.Subsequently, Keith Hinds, who was elected mayor in 2007, and the sitting mayor have talked about its immediacy but up to now none has been able to break ground.Hinds announced in 2008 that ground was to be broken for a US$200-million hospital, but then news emerged by 2010 that its construction was stalled, as they were unable to secure land.Then again in 2011, Hinds said that he had secured funding for the construction of a 120-bed private hospital. The assurance, according to him, came from CayJam Development Limited.Thomas said that the municipality cannot afford a private hospital, noting that a Type-B public hospital was the way to go.He said Health and Lifestyle Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said two years ago that the Government was already having discussions on the issue but that nothing further has been said about it.“He said then that it would be in the mould of a public-private partnership type arrangement, but we remain hopeful we can still get it off the ground,” Thomas said. MARKET also NEEDED In addition to a hospital, Thomas said there is the need for a market and at least two additional fire stations for Portmore. “The demand is there for such a market, and although we have Ackee Village, that won’t do the job of a dedicated market space,” Thomas said.“There is a demand for a fire station to be located in Hellshire and the other in Greater Portmore on lands in the vicinity of the 100-man police station,” he continued.Thomas said he has written to Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie about those two proposals, reporting that nothing definitive has come from the correspondence with the minister to date. paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com