By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE government has engaged four architectural firms to begin “immediate” repairs to public health clinics throughout the country, specifically those that were damaged by Hurricane Joaquin, Health Minister Dr Perry Gomez said yesterday.
Dr Gomez said two health care facilities in Colonel Hill, Crooked Island and Clarence Town, Long Island were “severely damaged” as a result of the category-four storm. He also said that a review of the 90 health care facilities managed by the Department of Public Health revealed that “40 or 44 per cent” of those facilities require “urgent or immediate repairs,” while 16 per cent or 18 per cent require “priority two” repairs.
Additionally, a “number of facilities” have been recommended for replacement, specifically in Ragged Island and the Exuma Cays.
Dr Gomez said that four firms: Alvin Rolle & Associates Company Ltd; Godwin Cargill and Associate Co Ltd; Architects and Associates and Wellington Woods & Associates, have been retained for the “renovation and improvement” of primary and public health clinics throughout the country.
Although officials were unable to say just how much the repairs would cost, Marco Rolle, Ministry of Health permanent secretary, said the government has tentatively budgeted $1m for the repairs. However, he said that is subject to change as the architects conduct their initial assessments.
According to Dr Gomez, it is anticipated that the four architects would begin mobilising their teams to start repairs within this week. The deadline is June 2016, he said.
“At the end of these repairs, residents can expect improved access to onsite diagnostic services inclusive of selected laboratory x-ray and ultrasound services,” Dr Gomez said. “Persons will also have improved access to specialists physician services instead of going to the Princess Margaret Hospital.”
“As expected, there will be some interruption of services when repairs commence at a particular facility,” he added. “However, the ministry will do all in its power to minimize these interruptions by conducting meetings with members of the various communities, airing of community announcements to provide pertinent information to our clients, extending operating hours of services, and strengthening home care services.”
Additionally, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) donated 10 satellite phones to the Ministry of Health for placement in various Family Island clinics. PAHO representative Dr Gerry Eijkemans said the donation was part of $150,000 worth of relief supplies procured by the agency to assist residents in the central and southern Bahamas.
Dr Eijkemans also said the agency would be sending three generators to the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Joaquin, as well as aquatics, larvicides, handheld foggers and truck loaded foggers.
PAHO’s donation, as well as the impending repairs to the various health care facilities, Dr Gomez said is “one of the most significant milestones” in public healthcare as officials seek to provide “safe, quality healthcare services through the improvement of health infrastructure and in preparation for the launch of National Health Insurance (NHI) in January 2016.”
According to Dr Gomez, Wellington Woods & Associates will handle the assessment and architectural designs for health care buildings in the southeastern and central Bahamas, which includes Acklins, Crooked Island and Long Island, all of which were severely affected by Hurricane Joaquin.
Livingston Forbes, chief architect at the Ministry of Works and Urban Development, will continue to be responsible for the architectural designs and repairs of health care buildings in Cat Island, San Salvador and Rum Cay, he said.
Alvin Rolle & Associate Co Ltd will be responsible for the repairs and expansion of the four polyclinics in New Providence; Godwin Cargill and Associate Co Ltd will be responsible for Mangrove Cay and Kemp’s Bay, Andros; Bimini and the Berry Islands.
Architects and Associates will be responsible for assessment and architectural design for all health care buildings in Eleuthera.