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Jun 13, 2014

Western Regional Hospital gets a new psychiatric ward

New Horizon is back in Belize; a collaboration between local and US military forces. This year the focus is on health, and today the Western Regional Hospital, thanks to New Horizon, inaugurated a new psychiatric health ward. It’s an important addition to the facility which already offers a program in psychiatric health care. Mike Rudon was in Belmopan today and has the story.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

Today, officials from government and the US military toured the new facility recently completed on the grounds of the Western Regional Hospital in Belmopan. It’s designed to house patients who require intensive psychiatric treatment in a specialized setting.


Peter Allen, C.E.O., Ministry of Health

Peter Allen

“It’s a short stay facility for those who for whatever reason develop an acute psychosis. Usually then, we would deal with the acute psychosis through our mental health unit and then the patient would progress into a community based approach which is our award winning, internationally recognized approach to mental health care services. Of course we have the palm center for long stay. But this facility has been constructed; it’s a value of about a million dollars and it has been constructed free of cost to the Belizean tax payers through the New Horizons 2014 project; that’s the project that also saw clinics in Corozal, clinics in Toledo and surgical clinics for urology specialists at the Karl Heusner and of course dental care as well provided along with our national dental health care program.”


Allen says the building is just one example of a long term cooperation program between Belize and the US which has resulted in numerous initiatives.


Peter Allen

“They are secured rooms for patients who, in an acute psychosis, they may harm themselves or others. So we do require for a particular category of patients, a secure room where our mental health staff: our psychiatric nurse, practitioners and psychiatrists can monitor the acute illness and treat the patient until they are stable and controlled. Sometimes I like to draw the simile with patients who undergo an acute diabetic crisis—either hyperglycemic crisis or hypoglycemic crisis—and you find that patients can actually fall very quickly into a coma or a very dangerous state, but then once they are provided with proper care and attention, they will quickly become controlled again. Their blood sugar becomes controlled and can function quite normally as anybody else in society.”


David Jones, Commander, B.D.F.

David Jones

“This health facility is one of the five projects that the B.D.F. engineers have been working with the US Forces here. This building in particular only took sixty-three days to be constructed. They started in early April and including today it is sixty-three working days total that they’ve been working here. Apart from this building, the B.D.F. has also assisted with the construction of schools at EP Yorke, Sadie Vernon, Hattieville and Stella Maris. This New Horizons is an effort that Belize tries to get, if possible every year. It is difficult, but I’ve always been trying at least every three years for New Horizons project to be here in Belize because Belize benefits from education and from health because apart from the health care facility that was constructed here, we have the building for schools and the doctors and surgeons that come in from the US Forces to perform medical attention for Belizeans here.”


Facilities are one thing, but Belize has lacked the capability to train individuals to handle specialized care of psychiatrically inclined wards. C.E.O. Allen says that this program with the US encompasses all that.


Peter Allen

“We are looking to train another cadre, another cohort of psychiatric nurses, practitioners—they do such a great job—but we always have to retrain our people. So in the past we’ve done that with the University of Belize and a partnership in Canada. So we are looking to introduce that training project again at UB, but the human resources in the end with health systems is absolutely imperative to proper functioning of infrastructure such as this building; you’re quite correct.”


New Horizon has brought development to the nation, but the perception is that the B.D.F., with its engineer corps, could do much more. Jones told us that the B.D.F. is ready and able to launch a local rehabilitation initiative.


David Jones

“We do have the capability and if the decision is taken for the B.D.F. to assist, we are willing and always able to do it because we have a company of light engineers. Apart from working with US forces, our engineers are normally occupied doing construction work on the military bases for the B.D.F. because they are responsible to do the refurbishment and construction for those buildings. Apart from the bases, they go out to the Mountain Pine Ridge areas where there are other facilities that the B.D.F. engineers have to maintain. But if the opportunity is there and we have done it before—we’ve assist other schools, we’ve assisted private citizens with construction and refurbishment of their homes. If the opportunity is there, the B.D.F. is able and willing to assist.”


New Horizon this week inaugurated a new project at the Stella Maris facility in Belize City. Mike Rudon for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Western Regional Hospital gets a new psychiatric ward”

  1. cg says:

    Bravo! More facilities like these are so needed all across the country. The more we tackle mental health full on…the more quality citizens we can put back in society. They deserve a chance and a place to get better like any other health problem.

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