"As we have been demanding a hospital for Estepona for more than ten years, I'm pleased to have the chance to see what it will be like because this time I can trust that it is actually going to happen." Those were the words of Antonio Rueda, who lives in Estepona and was at the Felipe VI theatre earlier this week, not for a concert or play but for the presentation of the CHARE project. Work is scheduled to begin on this hospital at the end of March, and the mayor of Estepona, José María García Urbano, and the regional Health minister Aquilino Alonso, organised the presentation to explain to local people what they can expect from it.
Nearly 500 people attended the event, filling the auditorium to find out more about their future hospital. It was due to have been built by 2007 but the works were suspended for several years.
Those present were able to see the layout of the building, which will be on three floors, one of them at lower ground level.
The ground floor will house the Emergency Department, rooms for consultations and diagnosis, and the administration and management offices.
The Emergency Department will have seven consulting rooms for adults, two for children, an observation room with 11 armchairs and a treatment room. The hospital will also have a helipad so that patients who are transferred by this method of transport can be taken into the building quickly. The hospital is expected to handle 91,000 emergencies and up to 85,000 consultations a year.
The top floor will house the operating theatres and multipurpose hospitalisation departments, an assembly room which can seat 200 people and another administration department. The surgical unit is expected to carry out between 3,600 and 4,000 operations a year, and has three operating theatres with a five-bed recovery room.
Finally, the lower ground floor will contain a clinical support department, changing rooms, the Customer Service department, management and administration offices, the maintenance department, storage and the food preparation unit.
During the presentation, which was also attended by regional government representative José Luis Ruiz Espejo, and the Junta de Andalucía's Health delegate Ana Isabel González, the mayor explained that since he had been in contact with Aquilino Alonso the negotiations to restart the hospital project had been "fruitful".
"The president of the Junta de Andalucía, Susana Díaz, visited Estepona after the flooding and showed special interest in the hospital project being finished. She also promised to come back to lay the first stone of the project," he explained. Sr Alonso said thatthe CHARE will cover 90 per cent of the health needs of the area.
Unusually, most of the project is to be financed by Estepona council.