Completiton of long awaited eye care centre held up by lack of funds

by Emmanuel Joseph

lionseyecarecentreatqehA lack of funding has stalled the early completion of the $7.5 million Lions Eye Care Clinic at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Previously held up by about two years of inactivity initially, before major refurbishment work recently resumed, this critical centre is facing yet another set back.

Project Manager, Dean Eccleston, told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that while the main eye specialist clinics were scheduled to open on October 1, the theatre suit would not.

“The air conditioning systems in all the areas would be ready except the theatre. The main challenge is the equipment for the three operating theatres. We may have to bring over one piece of equipment from the main operating theatre for the time being from outside of the centre, but we are still left with two theatres to equip,” Eccleston added.

“This would not allow us to use 100 per cent of the three operating theatres. Funding is the problem. We are trying various avenue to get funding.”

The project manager suggested that Government financing was one option, but that would be a big issue considering the present economic challenges facing the country. Another consideration would be to hope donors would step forward, but again, he noted, that was not guaranteed.

Eccleston was of the opinion that the best alternative would be to enter into a public/private sector partnership, where the equipment could be supplied and a manageable payback amount and period worked out.

He disclosed though, that a donor “came forward” and made a substantial contribution to providing the medical equipment for the cardiac suit.

“So there was no payback for that,” he added. “On the first floor, the cardiac suit, we had money for that equipment. The second floor, we are good to go. But on the third floor, the eye theatre, is where the challenge is,” pointed out Eccleston.

He said that with the exception of financing for outfitting the first floor, the other source of assistance was the European Development Fund, which provided $5 million.

Head of the Department of Ophthalmology, Dr. Trevor Drakes, told Barbados TODAY that the various outpatient eye clinics which operate from different places would be brought under one roof in the centre, from October.

“Everybody has not moved in yet, but should be by October. The theatre suit has not been handed over to me as yet,” Drakes pointed out.

He said the main specialist clinics which would be in operation in the centre included the occuplastic, glaucoma and the cornea and occu-surgery disease clinics. Drakes assured that once the centre was fully operational and serving Barbadians, the service would be extended to neighbouring Caribbean countries.

He said Barbados was one of the few regional territories with a good number of trained Ophthalmologists, including those with sub-specialist training. The medical specialist noted that in the QEH alone, there were nearly a dozen.

The Lions Eye Care Centre in located in building on the southern wing of the hospital.

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