Last Thursday marked the 12th anniversary of the fiery destruction of St Jude Hospital, and despite pledges first by the United Workers Party led administration, which was in power when the destruction occurred, followed by the Labour Party led administration, to construct a modern health facility for the people of the south in the quickest possible time, there is still no new hospital.
More than EC$100 million have been spent on the new facility to date, a sum of money that surely should have completed a hospital of that size. The delay in the construction of the hospital has been agonizing to Saint Lucians.
Promises made by the last administration that the hospital would be completed within their term in office never came true. In fact, former Minister for Economic Affairs, Guy Joseph once stated that should his administration not complete the hospital within its term in office (2016 – 2021) the people of Saint Lucia should vote them out.
St Jude Hospital is still in the headlines, this time it’s the Labour Party administration calling the shots and promising to make the hospital a priority during its term in office.
The Cabinet of Ministers this week appointed a five-member committee to review the hospital’s reconstruction project. The committee has been tasked to review the options for completion and commissioning of the hospital and to report its findings at the end of four weeks.
The committee is chaired by Mr. Mark Hennecart, a technical professional with 25 years of experience in building design and construction. Other members of this professional review committee include Mr. Francis Chitolie – Engineering, Mr. John Peters – Engineering, Mr. Cosmos Andrew – Engineering, and Mr. Moses Mederick – Contracting.
The fire of 9 September, 2009 that gutted St Jude Hospital claimed the lives of three individuals and injured several others.
According to a statement from the Office of the Prime Minister the new St Jude Hospital had been 80% completed, with a secured loan for its completion, and a French-trained transition and commissioning team in place when the Labour Party administration of 2011-2016 demitted office.
“At a recent tour by the Cabinet of Ministers of the St Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project, the project manager disclosed that the structures which existed in 2016 would require years before completion because the buildings had been repurposed by the UWP administration. Two of the pre-existing structures were demolished and others were abandoned and replaced with cladding shells,” noted the statement from the Office of the Prime Minister.
According to the statement, conditions at the George Odlum Stadium, where the hospital is operating, were left to deteriorate during the last five years. Further, upon completion of the review, the committee is expected to advise Cabinet on the feasibility and requirements for an immediate move and transfer of operations from the stadium to the original St. Jude Hospital Site. Additionally, Cabinet will be advised on proposals for the rehabilitation of the current hospital at the stadium until the St. Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project is completed.