Health Care and where to find it...
Hospital Jamaica: Understanding Jamaica's Health Care System
Every visitor to Jamaica should have an understanding of the country's hospital Jamaica, and health care system prior to leaving for the island. Being armed with this information can be extremely important if a medical emergency arises.
Every country has the obligation to provide health care facilities for properly handling the medical needs of its residents and visitors, and Jamaica is no different.
In fact, the island offers numerous public and private hospitals, health centers and services. Each one of the 14 parishes of Jamaica has at least one hospital, either publicly or privately owned.
The Jamaica Ministry of Health is the governmental body charged with formulating, implementing, monitoring and otherwise administering all the country's health care policies. It is also directly responsible for all public health care facilities, including the island's hospitals. As of the early 1980s, 22 general hospitals were estimated to be providing inpatient and outpatient care in Jamaica.
Of those 22 hospitals, 7 provided specialized care: 1 each for maternity, pediatrics, mental disorders, cardio-thoracic and tuberculosis surgery, physical rehabilitation, leprosy and terminal care.
Major publicly-owned hospitals include Cornwall Regional in Montego Bay, Mandeville, Kingston Public, and the University Hospital at Mona. Each one is governed by a partially self-governing regional administration board.
Compared to other island nations in the British Commonwealth, Jamaica has a somewhat lower proportion of hospital beds for its population.
The most recent estimate, from 1985, indicated that Jamaica's public hospitals offered 5,700 beds while its 6 private hospitals provided another 300. However, those figures could now be significantly higher due to the passage of time.
Jamaican hospitals fall within one of four administrative regions. The first of these regions encompasses 10 hospitals and 89 health centers in Kingston, St. Andrew, St. Thomas and St. Catherine parishes.
These facilities, which include five national referral or specialist hospitals, are administered by the South East Regional Health Authority. The region's estimated bed capacity is 2,755, which serves almost 1.7 million people on Jamaica as well as occasional patients referred from other Caribbean islands.
The second region includes Westmoreland, Trelawny, St. James, and Hanover parishes. Its 4 hospitals and 82 health centers are administered by the Western Regional Health Authority. These facilities have a bed capacity of 611 and serve slightly less than half a million people. Cornwall Regional is the major hospital of the region.
The North East Regional Health Authority administers the 4 hospitals and 82 health centers located in St. Mary, St. Ann and Portland parishes. With a bed capacity of 406, the facilities of this region serve slightly more than a third of a million people.
One public hospital on Jamaica, the University Hospital of the West Indies, provides somewhat different health care services. This hospital has a 494-bed capacity and offers facilities for teaching along with its community health programs, surgical services, and pediatric, gynecology and obstetrics, psychiatric and general health care services.
Hospitals on Jamaica, whether they're publicly or privately owned, are capable of dealing with most health conditions that might arise within the country.
The island's private health care facilities, including its private hospitals, are usually smaller, more expensive and more service-oriented. In addition, most of Jamaica's private facilities are associated with a religious organization.
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