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Renovation Works to Resume at St Jude Hospital Site

Image of a section of the unfinished St. Jude Hospital. (PHOTO: By PhotoMike)

There is apparently ‘no love lost’ among warring opposing factions regarding the status of works being undertaken at St Jude Hospital.

While the Phillip Pierre administration has indicated its intention to move along with the renovation works, in their preferred manner – the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) is crying ‘foul’ over the government’s notion. And so, the St Jude Hospital saga continues.

On Monday, Prime Minister Pierre disclosed that renovation works at the St Jude Hospital compound is due to recommence in November of this year. However, earlier, he had revealed some of the findings from a technical review undertaken by an independent committee. The committee was tasked with advising government on the most feasible options to proceed with the St. Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project.

According to Pierre, “The first phase of the construction would be fencing of the …original site and external and exterior works. The exterior works and fencing will commence in November …and full construction of the main buildings will continue in the new year.”

The prime minister has described the findings from the technical review as ‘startling’, while stating that the authorities with all good merit and in the interest of the country could not continue with the ongoing project structure.

In 2017, the former administration stopped construction works at the site amidst a series of setbacks and operational delays, and reviews undertaken.

PM Pierre said the stoppage was uncalled for, as according to reports at the time “the hospital (structure) was about 80% completed”.

“Work was stopped and did not commence until three years later. Two buildings were demolished in the process of the ‘so-called’ construction of a new hospital,” the Castries East MP explained.

Pierre continued, “Since that time a building was constructed at a cost over $100 million and it was said that this building would have been completed in six months…and the completion would be for one floor.”

As a result, said the prime minister, after a thorough and expert analysis of the situation the proposed construction project of the former regime indicated that they had “abandoned a hospital and decided that we would build one floor.”

However, Pierre noted, the committee deduced that this was not the right option and “the most prudent way to go.”

Reports further indicate that in 2019, construction works began at a different site and by 2021, less than two years later, more than $89 million had been spent on this latter project.

Cognizant about the ‘seemingly exorbitant construction expenses’ associated with renovation works at the project site, the authorities formed an independent committee to undertake a review of the status and operational management at the St Jude Hospital compound.

The committee report uncovered several deficiencies in the operational costs and the progress and merit of construction works undertaken at the site.

PM Pierre assured reporters that a full disclosure of the ‘committee’s report’ will be made public, as soon as the report is submitted to Cabinet.

Meanwhile, Opposition leader Allen Chastanet has voiced his disagreement to the current works being undertaken and accused the government of continuing to peddle a ‘deliberate lie’ regarding the reconstruction of St. Jude Hospital.

Chastanet, in a post on Facebook, stated that saying the ‘new building’ was 30 percent complete constituted a ‘blatant lie’.

“When we left office in July of 2021, the hospital which we had started to construct was over 70% complete, only 6 months away from full completion,” said the Micoud South MP. He added that the external work on the structure, including the complete installation of the cladding, windows, and doors had already been completed.

Chastanet informed that work was ongoing on the sewage, electrical, and partitions inside the building. “We had already begun placing orders for the medical equipment,” he disclosed.

The opposition leader contends that the current administration continues to ‘conveniently omit’ another important fact relating to main contractor for the St. Jude Hospital, which was granted  to the Taiwanese construction firm Overseas Engineering and Construction Company (OECC).

Said Chastanet: “We relied heavily on the expertise and experience of OECC to ensure that this project would live up to the world-class standards and expectations that we had set for this project.”

However, he said , the government has done no more than announce its intention to fence the original building at the St Jude Hospital project site.

“If this project wasn’t so serious I would think that this was a joke,” declared Chastanet.

He cautioned that the St. Jude Hospital project is a sensitive matter with which the Government must stop playing politics.

The opposition leader noted: “The problems associated with the structure proposed by the Prime Minister have been well documented: low ceilings, poor ventilation, and lighting, electrical wires mixed with the plumbing system. Another disaster waiting to happen.”

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