SENIOR Communications Officer (SCO) for the Government, Nicole Mc Donald, has been offering some answers to questions raised by opposition leader, Philip J. Pierre in a national address on Monday.
Pierre’s speech, which was broadcasted on local television, dealt with the health ‘crisis’ facing this country and he raised several issues relating to the state of health care on the island.
In her response to the broadcast, the SCO honed-in on the opposition leader’s accusation that the current administration is going to spend $12 Million to fix the George Odlum Stadium, where the operations of St Jude Hospital were transferred after a 2009 fire destroyed the original health care institution.
“We can all agree that Saint Lucia deserves a proper healthcare system and as Government, we are committed to delivering this despite the fact that the former Government failed to do so,” Mc Donald noted.
Mc Donald explained that, “There are four critical areas that the Government will be tackling at the St Jude Hospital: the roof, plumbing and electrical and as well as some sewer work.”
She also explained that an assessment was done on the entire grounds, but the Government is focusing on the key priority areas to make the staff and patients as comfortable as possible.
“The most costly undertaking will be the roof, which we estimate will cost just under one million dollars and we anticipate that work will start within the next two weeks, as the Prime Minister has already signed the direct award in order to get this done ahead of the season approaching.
“We know we have quite a task ahead and our focus is on ensuring that the St Jude Hospital staff and patients are as comfortable and operate in a safe environment at the current facility.”
She went on: “Simultaneously, we will shortly be announcing the decision on the way forward for the St Jude Hospital. We have the technical team of experts with the Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Finance and the Minister of Health, finalising recommendations to be submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers and this is based on the information and the necessary audits and assessments which were done on the project since we took office.”
Mc Donald explained that the Government’s assessments of the project were necessary in order to ensure that the project could proceed in an organised way.
Mc Donald said that the present administration was the one that initiated the phased move to OKEU.
“We now have the Dialysis Unit, Radiology, Out-patient clinic operating out of OKEU because of this administration. We also set up a Negotiating Team to engage and assess to packages to be offered to staff at the OKEU.
“We also have a Technical team to gather data on all employees. This is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Health,” she noted.
She said that the Government is also presently getting technical advice from PAHO and the EU on setting up National Health Insurance and once this is done a public sensitisation campaign on how health insurance will work will be rolled out.