BVI hosts course designed to create champions of smart hospitals

Tortola, British Virgin Islands, February 14th, 2014 (DDM) - Health professionals, engineers, architects and disaster managers from several Caribbean countries have joined their colleagues in the British Virgin Islands this week to discuss Smart Hospitals, which are facilities that combine disaster resilience and environmental friendliness to better serve patients and provide improved working conditions for health care workers.

They are attending a course organised by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and funded by United Kingdom Agency for International Development (UKAID) which seeks to create a cadre of champions to propel the SMART Hospitals initiative undertaken by the PAHO since 2011.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the course, PAHO’s Regional Adviser on Disaster Response, Dr. Dana Van Alphen said two demonstrations projects have already been completed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Kitts and Nevis and it is envisaged that participants will become champions of smart facilities.

Dr. Van Alphen said it is PAHO’s desire that “all new hospitals being built in the Caribbean will include safety and environmentally friendly measures to ensure sustained and cost efficient operations.” She said it is incumbent upon national authorities to make smart decisions as to when it becomes “economically worthwhile to reduce the energy consumption and increase the safety of health facilities.”

The PAHO official had high praise for the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) which she described as being instrumental in implementing the project and in promoting the initiative through its adaptation of the measures for the creation of Smart Schools and eventually Smart Communities in the BVI.

The Ministry of Health and Social Development, which is the PAHO focal point, also supported the initiative and helped to facilitate the course here this week. In his remarks on behalf of the Minister, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Irad Potter affirmed that the Ministry remains keenly interested in health disaster management as well as safe health facilities and smart hospitals and communities.

Like Dr. Van Alphen, the Chief Medical Officer expressed the hope that participants will become advocates of smart hospitals. He noted that while significant gains have been made through the project spearheaded by PAHO, vulnerabilities still exists and the focus must remain on building safer and smarter health facilities to mirror the expectations of people who expect hospitals to be structurally safe and sound and more environmentally friendly.

Dr. Potter also expressed concern about the continued dependence on fossil fuels and the resulting impact on energy bills. “While we accept that our hospitals in particular add a lot to greenhouse emissions, we accept that there are things that can be done to minimise this and therefore I personally expect that your presence here demonstrates your commitment and that we can eagerly await initiatives in all our territories and countries, leading to smarter hospitals and eventually smart communities and smart territories.”

As part of the four-day course, participants had an extensive tour of the new Peebles Hospital on Wednesday, led by Associate Director of Infrastructure at the BVI Health Services Authority, Mr. Allen Penn.

Dr. Van Alphen said the visit inspired the participants on the possibilities that modern technology can offer. “I was very impressed with the level of safety details included in the new hospital and the thought that went into the design and construction of the hospital to make it functional and user friendly. There are some additional components that can be added to make the facility green and it appears that these discussions are already taking place,” Dr. Van Alphen noted.

On Thursday, the participants viewed a video which will serve as a teaching tool for PAHO and which the DDM was instrumental in producing. Participants also visited Cooper Island to gain a full appreciation for the use of renewable energy and other conservation techniques.



Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency
Resilience Way,Lower Estate
St. Michael, Barbados
Tel. no. (246) 434-4880; Fax no. (246) 271-3660


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