SMART Healthcare initiativeFront left: PAHO/WHO Country Representative, Dr William Adu-Krow; Junior Public Health Minister, Dr Karen Cummings; and British High Commissioner (ag) Ray Davidson at Wednesday’s consultation on the SMART Healthcare facilities project held at the Diamond HospitalAs efforts are being taken to upgrade several primary hospitals across the country into ‘SMART Healthcare’ Facilities, the Diamond Diagnostic Centre is expected to undergo major remodelling to better improve the efficiency of the institution.The United Kingdom, through its Department for International Development (DFID), is injecting some US$4.175 million into the retrofitting and modernising of four hospitals as part of the SMART Healthcare Facilities initiative, which will see the local institutions being designed to help reduce mortality, morbidity and economic losses from natural disasters.In addition to the Diamond Hospital, the Leonora Cottage Hospital, the Mabaruma Regional Hospital and Lethem Regional Hospital will also benefit from the project.On Wednesday, consultations kicked off at the East Bank Demerara healthcare facility, where medical and administrative personnel attached to the hospital as well as members of the public were briefed on the general overview of the project and some of the design plans to remodel the institution.Principal Consultant of the SMART Healthcare Facilities project, Rawle Johnson, highlighted some of the bottlenecks they encountered at the Diamond Hospital. Among the issues was the fact that there is only one entrance/exist to the compound. He also outlined the inefficiencies of the hospital’s current internal design layout.It was pointed out by the design technicians that this project is posing some challenges since they are dealing with existing facilities. Nevertheless, they revealed some of the solutions they came up to address the bottlenecks. This include the efficient distribution of the different medical departments/services at the facilities to better utilise and optimise the space to: separate the emergency and outpatient sections; create a central reception area to hold patients so they do not have to wait outside; and set up a nursing station with a visibility of the entire area, among others.With regards to the sustainable aspect, some of the main initiatives to be undertaken will be energy and water consumption and conservation.This aspect of the project will be in keeping with Government’s Green State Development Strategy since it not only focuses on a safe healthcare system but also to make it environmentally sustainable, according to Junior Public Health Minister, Dr Karen Cummings.During the opening ceremony of Wednesday’s consultations, Minister Cummings outlined the benefits such an initiative will bring to health care delivery within the public system, especially with the threat of natural disasters always imminent in this region.“It is necessary that Guyana embrace the Smart Hospital initiative so as to ensure that we have health facilities that can function optimally even in the aftermath of natural disasters,” Dr Cummings noted.Pointing out that the SMART Hospital initiative offers the improvement of existing procedures for the provision of medical care as well as opening up new opportunities for medicine, the Junior Public Health Minister noted that Guyana will not be left behind in delivery safe, sustainable and affordable healthcare services.The SMART Healthcare Facilities project is being implemented in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) and country representative, Dr William Adu-Krow, spoke of the importance of primary hospitals being outfitted with the Smart Healthcare initiative.“It’s important and imperative for countries to adopt this SMART Hospital initiative as a national policy for risk reduction and to ensure that all new hospitals are built with a level of safety, and also retrofitted existing ones so that they will continue to function during and after severe natural hazard events,” Dr Adu-Krow stated while commending Government for its commitment for and towards the project.Meanwhile, acting British High Commissioner to Guyana, Ray Davidson, told stakeholders gathered in the compound of the Diamond Diagnostic Centre that the consultation is being held to raise awareness and get feedbacks from health workers and those who will be directly affected by the implementation of the project.The SMART Healthcare Facilities project is being implemented in a total of seven countries across the Caribbean region.