Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says that the Santa Cruz Health Centre is to benefit from extensive upgrading to transform the facility into a centre of excellence. Making the disclosure during a recent tour of the facility, the Minister informed that the project, estimated to cost $100 million, will be done in stages. Work on the initial phase, expected to cost $25 million, is to get underway soon, with the critical areas to be addressed. “Taking it to its final stages will require an additional $75 million. The intention is that, that figure will be rolled in over the next two years, so that we will be able, at the end of that time, to have a first class/first world primary centre that is in keeping with excellence and in keeping with the Government’s priority for the renewal of primary health care,” Dr. Ferguson said. He said that the thrust to upgrade health centres across the country is to ensure that they can offer first-class service to citizens, relieving the burden on the hospitals, so that they can devote more time and effort on specialized health needs. “Part of the strategy of renewal speaks to not just the emphasis on primary health care, but on the relationship between primary health and secondary care, and tertiary care. We want to be in a position to be able to do a seamless referral from primary to secondary,” he stated. “What we want, is to create at the community level… an opportunity for patients and clients to recognize that there is a real choice in attending a health centre, that will allow our hospitals to do the more complicated procedures,” he added. Dr. Ferguson reported that over the last three years, a number of health centres have been repaired under an ongoing $300 million project, and in the Southern Region, where Santa Cruz is located, over $40 million have been spent on facilities. He said that the Black River Clinic will be receiving attention, with $500,000 to be spent on kitchen repairs.