IT’S a tough thing to swallow when after investing close to $100 million dollars in a new hospital to be told that all that effort was in vain. Even worse, that after waiting eight long years for its opening that it should be “knocked down” because its design is not conducive for a healthcare facility.
This seems to be the essence of what Minister for Health, Mary Isaac, expressed on Thursday as she spoke to reporters. That the beleaguered St. Jude Hospital which suffered its death by fire in September 2009 can now be described as having classroom-like quality is an insult to everyone who would have contributed to its reconstruction.
As has been the case for many decades now, the healthcare sector has taken many punches to its stomach and slaps across the face. Visit many of the wellness centres and hospitals across the island and the excuses and sub-standard treatment stick out like a sore thumb. Now, the hopes of those in the island’s south, who have been forced to make a temporary measure at a stadium run into eight years, seems daunting.
With nearly $50 million being the asking price for the completion of St. Jude Hospital, it would appear that rather than coughing up that amount, the best move is to just lose $100 million already spent. However, as a last resort, how about the complex being used for another purpose instead of just “knocking it down”?
Given the widespread devastation caused by Hurricane Irma in neighbouring countries, now is hardly the time for any government to be wasting financial resources and time on failed projects. After all, for the past few years, Saint Lucians were promised two new hospitals – the other being the Owen King-EU Hospital – and they deserve to have those promises delivered.
Earlier this year, demolition of buildings seemed high on government’s agenda when it was revealed that despite spending close to $2 million for a refurbishment phase that lasted close to two years, the main courthouse on Peynier Street in Castries was still unfit to be used for anything. Wasted time and dollars that resulted in cases being heard elsewhere and hefty rent being paid.
If Saint Lucians are to think that government truly serves the people in good stead, then at least they must have tangible proof that such is the case. Reliable healthcare and speedy justice are basic fundamentals that a citizenry need to remain relevant, safe and sustainable. If they are denied that much, how can they boast of having much? In this increasingly competitive global environment, it would serve us all in good stead if we choose to build rather than tear down.