altBRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday October 1, 2015 - Work has commenced in the selected countries to collect baseline information and to start training national teams to undertake the assessment of health facilities in the four (4) priority countries, namely Grenada, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica as part of Phase II of the Smart Healthcare Facilities Project.

Initial works began in Dominica prior to the impact of Hurricane Erika in August 2015 and, although this event has caused some setbacks in that island, the project teams are advancing efforts in the other three islands. Over the past two months PAHO has been working with the Ministries of Health to gather baseline information on selected facilities and to provide training in the use of the Hospital Safety Index and green checklist with the intention of forming national teams to support the assessment process for all health infrastructures. Training has been completed in Grenada and two national teams have been established and are already deployed to conduct the assessment in 41 health facilities. Other training events will take place in Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines in November and Dominica will host one in December to prepare for assessing the remaining estimated 170 facilities in these three countries.

altAs part of the project activities, selected facilities will be audited to determine energy and water usage and to record indoor air quality readings. The results of the assessment will be incorporated into the national risk exposure database of each country and will be used to determine which facilities will undergo retrofitting to meet the established Smart standards.

Ministries of Health will be able to choose at least three facilities according to predetermined selection criteria. These facilities will be retrofitted to meet safety standards and to reduce operational expenditure with improved performance of water and energy management. Indoor air quality will also be upgraded through various interventions aimed at satisfying the needs of the users of the facility, enhancing working conditions as well as the facility's resiliency to natural hazards.

The Smart Hospitals project (Phase II) is financially supported by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) to the amount of £8.6 million (US$ 13.1 million) and implemented through the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Department of Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief.