GOVERNMENT STILL UNDECIDED!
WHILE it is still unclear whether government will complete the existing facility that is St. Jude Hospital or build a new hospital altogether, patients and staff occupying the makeshift facility at the George Odlum Stadium will remain there for the next two years — at least.
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet Monday, at a pre-Cabinet Press Briefing, said it would take about a year and a half to two years to complete the hospital, adding that it breaks his heart to know that the stadium will continue to be used as a makeshift hospital for up to that time.
But a level of comfort will be brought to the stadium as government plans to renovate certain parts and install new equipment, according to the prime minister.
But the year-and-a-half to two-year time frame given by him for the hospital’s completion is not guaranteed. He has yet to reveal from whence government will source the funds to build the state of the art, accredited facility that he said will be built for the people in the south.
Economic Development Minister Guy Joseph, just a week earlier, said the prime minister would make more detailed pronouncements within a month’s time about the way forward for St. Jude. Such pronouncements would detail what may be done to the existing facility or whether any new considerations would be revealed.
As to whether the new considerations spoken of by Joseph means the construction of a new hospital, time alone will tell. However, this is not far-fetched as the prime minister is known to have spoken with enthusiasm about a state-of-the-art hospital being built in the Cayman Islands within a year.
“I went to the Cayman Islands and saw a world-class hospital that was built in one year. Plans we have will not include a (sub-standard) hospital. My government will not stand for that,” Chastanet said Monday.
Whether government decides to build a new facility or complete what’s already started will require millions of dollars, approximately $120 million, according to the prime minister. But neither Chastanet nor Joseph could speak on the source of funding for St. Jude’s completion, or that of a new hospital.
“You cannot give timelines and dates when you have not secured the necessary funding to be able to execute a project,” Joseph said.
One thing is certain, though: Government is not keen on completing St. Jude as is.
“The analysis we have done and has shown that whatever we do to fix up the existing facility is going to be sub-standard, meaning that in order to move in we would have to accept sub-standards standards,” Chastanet said.
He is struggling with the question whether it is cheaper to fix the existing facility or build something new?
According to him estimates are showing that an excess of $120 million would have to be spent whatever direction the decision goes and that it would take between 18 and 24 months for completion.