Saint Lucia
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Castries Urban Polyclinic: One Person, Three Services

Sylvestre Phillip M.B.E
By Sylvestre Phillip M.B.E

THE Government of St. Lucia Has announced that the Victoria Hospital will be repurposed. The hospital will be converted to the Castries Urban Polyclinic. The Polyclinic will provide Primary Care, Urgent Care and Secondary Care. As the health Personnel would say, ‘One Person, Three Services.’

The Victoria Hospital has served St. Lucia well for some one hundred and thirty- six years. The hospital was opened as a public health facility in St. Lucia in 1887. The Victoria Hospital was the main hospital on the island until it was replaced by the Owen King European Hospital.

Initially, the Victoria Hospital was run by nuns specifically for soldiers, and the hospital evolved into the main public hospital on the island. Later, St. Jude Hospital was built, so the island had two hospitals. One in the North and the other in the South. However, Victoria Hospital has been offering general services to the public for all of one hundred and thirty-six years.

Now in mid-2020, the Victoria Hospital was used as a respiratory hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even then, the hospital served St. Lucia well.

The Victoria Hospital will now be used as the Castries Urban Polyclinic. The hospital will focus on three main services. The first is Primary Health Care.

Now what exactly is Primary Health Care? Primary Health Care or PHC, is essential health care based on practical, scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology which is made universally acceptable to individuals and families in the community.

The government of St. Lucia has made a bold political choice for its people by bringing health care across all sectors of our society. Actually, it is a provision of Universal Health Care for our people.

Simply put, primary health care shall provide general health services, promotive, curative and rehabilitative service to the community. Primary health care is the first-place people should go when they have a health problem and includes a wide range of professionals such as general practitioner (GP), dentist, pharmacist and opticians.

Now what exactly is Urgent Care? Urgent health care also known as urgent treatment centre is a type of walk-in clinic focussed on the delivery of Ambulatory Care (AC), meaning that services are provided in an out-patient setting.

Now in St. Lucia, many people go to the Owen King European Hospital for urgent medical care when in fact they should be going to an out facility which provides outpatient clinic. They did the same thing with the Victoria Hospital when in fact they should have gone to the Castries Health Centre which could easily provide the services which they need and leave the hospitals for specialize services which they would be required to provide.

We come now to Secondary Care Services. These services are usually based in the main hospital and some services are community based. Some of these services may include planned operations, specialist clinics such as cardiology or renal clinics or rehabilitation services such as physiotherapy.

Now usually, your primary doctor or health care provider may refer you to a specialist. Simply put, your doctor or health care provider has transferred your care to someone who has more specific expertise in whatever health issue you are experiencing.

Indeed, specialists focus either on a specific system oy the body or particular disease or condition. I must explain that the body has systems; for example, circulatory system which deals primarily with the circulation of blood in the body, digestive system which deals with the digestion of food in the body, and the endocrine system to name just a few. Now the endocrine system is made up of organs called glands which produce and release different hormones that target specific things in the body.

Now some specialists are: cardiologists who focus on the heart and blood vessels; oncologist who focus on cancers, and many focus on a specific type of cancer, endocrinologists who focus on hormone systems including diseases such as diabetes and thyroid diseases.

In St. Lucia many adults and children too, suffer from diabetes and hypertension. It may surprise you to know the large number of children who suffer from diabetes in St. Lucia. The Diabetes and Hypertension Association could provide the public with information about the number of children suffering from diabetes. It’s frightening really!

The Government of St. Lucia St. Lucia is determined to provide affordable and quality health care to members of the public.

Affordable health care means that charges for health care will be so minimal that everyone would be able to pay for their health care. In fact, many persons are already receiving free health care, including persons who are 80 years and over.

Now what exactly do we mean when we speak of quality healthcare? There are six important areas which enable one to determine that quality healthcare is being provided. These are the areas: safety, effectiveness, patient- centeredness, timeliness, efficiency and equity. By equity I mean that everyone has equal opportunity to receive healthcare; ‘haves’ as well as the ‘have-nots’.

It is heartening to know that the Castries Urban Polyclinic will be providing these vital health services to our people. And the OKEU hospital would be allowed to provide the specialized care that it is required to provide to the public.

I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate the Minister for Health and Wellness Hon. Moses Jn. Baptiste and his Ministry personnel who have well conceptualize and are ready to provide affordable and quality health to the people of St. Lucia. Hats off to the team!