THE first day hospital for public health patients in the Balearic Islands was opened yesterday in Palma by regional Health minister, Vicenç Thomas.
The building is a reformed part of Palma's General Hospital and aims to provide care for between 2'000 and 2'500 people a year.
The new centre, is currently the only one of its kind in the region which will act as a stepping stone for patients who no longer need treatment as full-time in-patients. It will offer intermediate care and assessment prior to their being able to receive ongoing attention in their own homes.
Thomas, who was accompanied yesterday by Majorca's Health Management (Gesma) Director, Biel Fortuny, highlighted the importance of the day hospital to respond to the needs of a population where life expectancy was becoming increasingly longer.
There is a higher possibility amongst the aging community, explained Thomas, of specific illnesses which are prone to reoccurring.
The new day hospital which will provide physiotherapy and social and psychological reorientation to public health patients, is located in an area of the General Hospital which was vacated three years ago. The buildings formerly housed the kitchens and out-patients department
The conversion of the disused area of the General Hospital meant an investment of 1'167'000 euros on behalf of the Balearic government, confirmed Thomas.
With the opening of the day hospital, the capacity of the General Hospital to attend to members of the public has doubled, the Minister said.
Not only will it be receiving day care patients from the General Hospital itself, but also from other hospitals on the island or even those who have been recommended by primary healthcare centres.
Thomas said that a key task of the day hospital will be to assess to what extent patients have lost the ability to move around on their own and what their possibilities of recovery are.
There is apparently an open-air terrace area with ramps and railings so that patients can practice getting about as if they were out in the street. Also in the day hospital, added the Minister, is an area for those suffering from senile dementia which has sections deliberately designed to be similar to a home environment. These will help the patient adjust once he or she leaves the hospital. Thomas said that the day hospital had become a tremendously important part of the public health service in the Balearic Islands. He said that on Majorca alone, there were already some 300'000 people who might be needing such care.
Meanwhile, the opposition Partido Popular (PP) in the Balearic government are calling on regional President Francesc Antich to replace Health Minister Thomas. The present Minister, claim the PP, is not capable of properly overseeing the transfer of patients from Son Dureta to the new General Hospital of Son Espases.
Ex Health Minister, Ana Castillo said that Thomas was not listening correctly to the concerns of professional hospital workers who were claiming the move was being made too swiftly.