Barbadians no longer have to travel overseas to receive premium eye care service.
That is because after more than 20 years in the making, the Lion’s Caribbean Eye Care Centre was officially handed over today.
Located at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in the City, the centre will provide service for paediatric and adult ophthalmology. It has the capability to provide glaucoma management, cataract treatment, opthaplastic, cranial implants and other eye care services, Chief Executive Officer of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Dr. Dexter James, told those in attendance at the ceremony held at the QEH this afternoon.
He added that in April of this year they would also commission the key operating theatres to expand the operating capacity, therefore giving the centre an opportunity to sell its services to the private sector.
Minister of Health Donville Inniss, who was there to sign the hand-over document, described the new state-of-the -art facility as a centre of excellence for ophthalmology and encouraged those who would utilise the space and equipment to maintain it.
The minister also revealed that given the challenges the Barbadian society faced with non-communicable diseases, especially diabetes and its impact on eye care and vision issues, they made the decision that expansion of ophthalmology services within the primary care department via polyclinics was a must.
“We certainly have to realise that there are improvements needed at the primary care level if not we are going to make it harder for the team at the QEH to manage the number of cases,” he said.
“We need to have early detection and wherever possible some management done at the polyclinic level. We can’t put all of the pressure on the QEH. This also means that we have to think outside of the box … by helping to train and work in our primary care department to provide service at that point.
“When I joined the Ministry of Health one of the burning issues was sending Barbadians to Cuba for eye care and I took a position very early on that I am satisfied and the Ministry of Health team was satisfied that we had the human resource available in Barbados to meet that demand, we just needed to get it right in terms of the administrative arrangement.
“We just had to make that commitment and show the determination to manage eye care for our citizens and residents of Barbados. I am happy to say that not only do we not have to send Barbadian abroad, we can now also open our doors at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to welcome others from other parts of the world to obtain ophthalmology services here.
“We have a wonderful opportunity to really showcase not just to the rest of the QEH but to the entire Caribbean region that we can do it in this hospital. Over the years we have made tremendous improvements… I cannot think of any other health care facility this side of the world that has available the type of skills and services that the QEH has,” said Inniss. (KC)†††