“Nothing wrong” with old St Jude Hospital – Chairman of SJHRP

Government’s decision to resume construction on the old St Jude Hospital was entirely practical and proved to be the better decision when compared to ‘phase two’, Chairman of the St Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project (SJHRP), Michael Willius said in an interview this week.

Willius who appeared on the Government Information Service (GIS) programme ‘Nation Beat’, explained that the Review Committee appointed by government upon examining ‘phase one’ (the old St Jude Hospital), discovered it to be faultless.

According to him, “The Committee examined ‘phase one’ and ‘phase two’ which is the new structure that was put up (by the previous administration) and in doing the examination they discovered that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the (old) structures. They are sound, they were well-built and there was considerable improvement in the structures in terms of the work that had been done up to August 2016. They also discovered that in terms of cost it was more (in a) state of readiness for completion so it would have cost the government a lot less to go into that structure.”

“Based on that they (government) felt that it would be (wiser) to continue … phase one. They were in a much more advanced stage of preparedness and financially would serve the people of Saint Lucia (taxpayers) better,” Willius added.

Since the suspension of Phase 1 in late 2016, the St Jude Hospital has remained at the center of a controversy over its completion and its transition out of the George Odlum National Stadium where it has operated since 2009.

Members of the opposition have questioned government’s decision to return to the original site. Willius, however, noted that several experts were involved in the decision-making process.

“Cabinet appointed a team of professionals. On that team we had two architects,” he noted, adding that there was also a quantity surveyor, procurement expert and “someone involved in construction management.”

“There were a wide range of (experts) in terms of the sort of (experts) you require to make a good assessment of the buildings… so it wasn’t a situation where the Cabinet of Ministers decided on their own. A Review Committee comprising professionals were the ones who made an examination of the two structures; they looked at the entirety of what was going and the recommendation was made to Cabinet that it would be a very prudent decision to move ahead with the continuation of phase one,” said Willis.

In pursuit of its mandate of “Putting People First” the Government of Saint Lucia (GOSL) was determined to restore the delivery of affordable and quality healthcare to the residents of the south of the island, the Final Report and Recommendations of the SJHRP (released in October 2021) noted.

The report “sets out recommendations for pursuing a focused process for achieving an expedient, cost-effective, sustainable and efficient transition for the St Jude Hospital. The report will take into account many of the fundamental historic factors which have informed and transformed the various phases of the SJHRP. The ultimate goal is to create parameters for the SJH to return to its position as a major referral Level  5 General Hospital within the existing system of health care delivery in Saint Lucia, at its landmark location.”

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