Exuma ‘retarded’ by $14m clinic’s two idle years


Tribune Business Editor


Exuma’s economic growth is being “retarded” by the two-year wait to open the island’s $14 million mini-hospital, its Chamber of Commerce president yesterday describing the facility as “a source of confusion”.

Pedro Rolle told Tribune Business that Exumians were not being “empowered” as a result of the mini-hospital sitting idle, with the situation also acting as a deterrent for potential investors assessing the island.

This healthcare facility is needed,” Mr Rolle said via e-mail, in response to this newspaper’s questions. “It is a worthwhile government investment in Exuma, and was - and remains - a good idea not just for our local community, but also for persons in the southern and central Bahamas whose very life may be dependent on timeliness of service.

“In addition to the healthcare aspect, though, is the economic spin-off of this facility in Exuma. Potential investors continue to inquire as to the opening of this facility; their investment is dependent on this. The residual businesses would add other elements to our job creation ability. Bottom line, the continued closure of this facility is retarding the growth of our economy.”

While the building was completed some two years ago, the mini-hospital has never been fitted out with the necessary medical or pharmaceutical supplies, and no doctors or nursing staff have been assigned to it.

The failure to open it also raises further questions about whether the Government, and the whole country, are ready for the imminent National Health Insurance (NHI) implementation, given that strengthening of the public health sector’s infrastructure has been identified as essential to the scheme’s success.

An open mini-hospital, apart from providing improved healthcare for Exumians, would also be attractive for second home buyers and other investors scouting the island due to the knowledge that quality services were on offer.

“It’s not emphasising the importance of the clinic’s opening, and it’s not emphasising the importance of empowering locals,” Mr Rolle told Tribune Business of the situation.

“It’s retarding the progress of the island. The clinic has benefits to us that empower us and allow us to go forward. That clinic has been sitting there for two years, not generating any benefits.

“Economic growth, development and employment are tied into something taken for granted. It’s more than just the $14 million sitting there. It’s that money and all the residual benefits that flow from it.”

They include a more productive and healthy workforce, and Mr Rolle said the mini-hospital’s current status was akin to “a museum piece”.

“This mini-hospital remains a source of confusion for many,” he added.

“The hope was that this would have been opened two years ago. Today, it stands as some type of museum piece to be viewed from a distance.

“The tragedy is that so many persons who live here and visit here are in immediate need of the promised services. We are uncertain if the challenges in opening this facility are due to a lack of funding or a lack of qualified personnel. In any event, with open dialogue I believe both problems are easily solvable.”

Mr Rolle said Exuma was also “ill informed and definitely far from ready” to implement the Government’s much-touted NHI scheme, and he called on the Christie administration to roll-out the scheme cautiously via an approach that went through one island at a time.

The Chamber president then echoed the calls of foreign homeowners at Exuma’s controversy-torn Oceania Heights development, who have argued that the Government focus on collecting the hundreds of thousands in tax dollars they paid to the project’s original developers to help finance the mini-hospital’s opening.

Tribune Business has previously revealed how Anthony Thompson, Oceania’’s Bahamian partner and attorney, admitted to taking $400,000 in Stamp Duty from buyers but failing to pass the monies on to the Public Treasury.

“Uncollected funds owed to government on the Oceania Heights properties alone are significant,” Mr Rolle told Tribune Business.

““The real property taxes government can collect from owners who await their deeds so that they can pay their taxes are significant. And this is just Oceania Heights.

“The bottom line is Exuma is a huge revenue generator for the Government, and as such should see greater re-investment in our local economy. The healthcare facility should not be held up for financial reasons.”

Reiterating homeowner pleas for Government intervention to bring their long-standing problems to a resolution, Mr Rolle said: “We have been discussing the Oceania Heights fiasco for a number of years now. We’ve had discussions with the principals of Oceania Heights, the homeowners and the Government. We have put forth a proposal to the Government to assist in the resolution. This matter has taken longer than seems reasonable.

“We hope that this year Oceania Heights can finally become the project it was intended, and offer economic opportunities that will positively impact our local economy.”


marrcus 8 years, 3 months ago

I was in Exuma after christmas. While visiting with friends, a frantic phone call came in from a visitor whose 10 month old baby fell off a chair and hit her head. The parents were desparate and had to cancel all there holiday plans and hire a private plane to fly to Nassau. The baby is fine now, but I can tell you they will not come back to Exuma again, and anyone with health issues or very young children should not come either. You better have good credit cards or a pocket full of cash for medical emergencies, cause Exuma can't help you (they could wrap you in bandages, but thats about it.) And if you find yourself in need, best to go to the local Veterinarian, assuming they are on the island. It used to be "Better in the Bahamas", but there are many better places all over the Caribbean.


Fitmiss 8 years, 3 months ago

The same is true in Eleuthera. Sad even in case of xrays one has to either pray that the people from Nassau happens to be holding clinic in Spanish Wells or get on the plane or boat. The cost are astronomical if it is a serious emergencies or after dark when the regular flights stop running and you need a private plane. The clinics are small, and a lot of needed medication is often out of stock. Considering Eleuthera produced so many key political power houses including Sir Roland Symonette, I would have thought government would not have overlooked it so. Talks about building a mini hospital here has been going on for years.


Patches 8 years, 3 months ago

The majority of people who were cheated by Anthony Thompson and Howard Obront by purchasing property in Oceania Heights were doctors.... specialists in various areas. They would most likely have been more that willing to spend a few days a week in the hospital, given that doctors never want to stop practicing what they yearn to do. Perhaps some would want to be paid but the most would just want a stipend!

This is a tragedy! There is an empty hospital building with no staff, no completion of the interior, no effort at all by the government to provide much needed medical services to the Exumians .....only, it seems, to line their pockets with the construction!

It's time for the People of Exuma to revolt and demand that the Bahamian government step up and do what is right!


sealice 8 years, 3 months ago

now you know how they feel about the outislanders - if you can't do it yourself out there it ain't gonna get done.


MonkeeDoo 8 years, 3 months ago

This will all change with GHI !


Sign in to comment