Portugal’s Health Minister travelled to the Algarve last week to inaugurate several new additions to the region’s public health service, including the new ‘Terras do Infante’ state hospital in Lagos and three new units at Faro hospital.
In reality, the formerly private São Gonçalo hospital became a part of the SNS national health service in January when it joined the Algarve’s network of state-run hospitals (CHUA, standing for Centro Hospitalar Universitário do Algarve).
However, it was only officially inaugurated during the minister’s visit on Friday, November 4.
The new hospital, whose building is still owned by the private HPA group, has replaced the town’s old hospital, which is located in the town’s historic centre and dates back to 1496.
The old hospital’s limitations and issues were well-documented, with patients and health professionals alike often lamenting the lack of conditions that the centuries-old building offered.
The minister, Manuel Pizarro, stressed the importance of this new hospital for the population of the Western Algarve, who for decades have had to travel dozens of kilometres east of Lagos to receive health care befitting of the 21st century.
Ana Varges Gomes, president of CHUA’s administration board which since Friday’s inauguration ceremony has offered to quit over a monumental mistake at Faro Hospital’s morgue, says health authorities have put in the work to improve public healthcare across the Algarve.
“This is a project which we had dreamed up about. It was worth it, and it is surely a winning bet for our professionals, for our patients and for health in the Algarve,” Gomes said.
Lagos mayor Hugo Pereira also celebrated the improvements that the new hospital will bring, with the addition of new services such as outpatient surgery which were not previously available in Lagos.
The new Terras do Infante Hospital adds 44 new hospital beds for the region, as well as a surgical bloc, rooms for medical consultations, a laboratory, imageology, a support gym for physical medicine and rehabilitation, pharmacy, and a basic A&E unit.
On the same day, the minister also inaugurated a new intensive medicine unit, stroke centre and orthoprosthesis laboratory at Faro Hospital.
The intensive medicine unit was built from scratch and boasts 14 beds (a number which CHUA says can be increased) and also features the new stroke centre, whose close proximity to the intensive medicine unit is expected to provide a better level of healthcare to stroke patients.
Meanwhile, the orthoprosthesis lab aims to “centralise the entire system of technical aids” provided by CHUA’s several units. The inauguration of the lab saw the minister delivering the first lower body orthosis (an external medical device designed to assist movement of a limb or the spine) created at the lab to a child.
The lab, which CHUA says is “unique” in the SNS, aims to reduce the amount of time patients are hospitalised and also reduce their recovery periods.