Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (centre) and Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh prepare for the cutting the ribbon at the ceremonial opening of the Arima General Hospital, while Arima MP and Education Minister Anthony Garcia (right) and Arima Mayor Lisa Morris-Julian, look on.

Arima’s long wait for a hospital has come to an end.

The long-awaited Arima General Hospital, which was approved for construction in 2015, was officially opened today.

For several years, Arima residents had staged demonstrations in the community asking for a proper hospital to be built to supersede the Arima Hospital, which is adjacent to the new facility.

Those protests and eventual calls for the Eastern borough to have an improved medical facility were referenced by Arima MP Anthony Garcia today, as he detailed the old hospital’s evolution from a 20-bed facility to its current state.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley explained that while the plans for the hospital were there when he took office, the financial situation facing the country due to falling oil prices in 2014 to 2015 could have seen the project stalled.

“Government opted not to hold on the project,” the Prime Minister said, “and construction on the facility began in 2016, thus allowing for its completion, today.”

He said apart from education, the government had placed priority on the improvement of the health care system. This, he said, was evidenced by the country’s successful containment of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh said the Arima General Hospital’s opening can change the shape of the local health care system, as it would allow the Eric Williams Medical Science Complex to finally focus on the services for which it was originally designed.

The hospital will also be used as a emergency medical facility for incidents at the Piarco International Airport.