HEALTH Minister Mary Isaac may have expressed enthusiasm over the opening for business of the Owen King European Union Hospital (OKEUH), but even she would admit that it was not the way government planned.
In fact, just three months ago, no one foresaw that the transition of almost all patients from Victoria Hospital to the OKEUH would begin this month, yesterday to be precise.
Afterall, several year-end dates have been given for the hospital’s official opening starting from year-end 2017 to year-end 2020.
The coronavirus has upended all plans government may have had for a grand official opening of the hospital even to the point where a team from Martinique which had to help in the smooth transition could not have done so due to the virus, a point noted by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet himself.
Chastanet over the years had explained time and again the constraints his government has had in getting the hospital in shape for a timely official opening.
“It is sad that it has taken the coronavirus to cause this to happen,” Minister Isaac told reporters Thursday during a walk-through of the hospital, referring to the transition from Victoria Hospital.
Isaac said it was a good thing the transition was happening. “We will take comfort in the fact that we are able to move into a new hospital. Many people across the region are not able to do so,” she said.
But what about all the issues associated with the OKEUH that prevented the government from opening it six months or a year ago? Are those issues still important and if so, have they all been resolved?
“What I can say is that there are less issues with this hospital than we have at the Victoria Hospital and since this is an emergency, we must take the necessary steps to protect our people and this is what we are doing right now,” Isaac said.
The minister did not identify the issues plaguing the OKEUH at this time saying “I am not aware that those issues are what they were. I am not aware that these issues would prevent us from moving into this hospital and that is why we are moving,” Isaac said.
Victoria Hospital will not be abandoned but will be used as a respiratory facility, meaning persons with respiratory issues will be seen at that hospital.
“We couldn’t have asked for more,” were Isaac’s parting words.