Prime Minister Perry Christie tours the new health centre in Abaco. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
GOVERNMENT officials commissioned the Marsh Harbour Healthcare Centre in Abaco yesterday, touting it as a long-awaited boost to the island and the Christie administration’s National Health Insurance plans.
Like the Child and Adolescent and Robert Smith (CARS) Complex that was commissioned last year, the Marsh Harbour Healthcare Centre has a tortured history, one of missed deadlines and claims of shoddy workmanship, all without any clear accountability.
The facility’s original contractor went bankrupt.
Construction of the healthcare centre began under the former Ingraham administration.
When the Christie administration came to power, it spent $1m renovating the facility, Prime Minister Perry Christie said yesterday.
“The floors had to be ripped up and lots of work had to be done,” added Minister for Grand Bahama Dr Michael Darville, who oversees aspects of NHI’s implementation.
Now, the facility is state of the art. At 33,000 square feet, it will be a place where dental and lab services will be provided.
Abaco currently has about three nurses and one doctor, Dr Darville said. By December, the island will have 16 nurses, five doctors, a radiologist and two lab technicians.
Charlene Bain, the director of public health, added that the overall health staff on the island will grow from the 20 that it has now to 70 by September.
The facility boasts an administrative wing, pharmacy and a morgue where autopsies will be performed.
Mr Christie noted during his speech that a similar facility is planned for Exuma, to be opened “in the shortest time possible.”
He also revealed that the Ministry of Finance has dedicated funding for a mini-hospital to be constructed in Palmetto Point, Eleuthera.
Dr Darville said works have been undertaken and are nearing completion at clinics in Mangrove Cay, Andros; Mathew Town, Inagua; Deadman’s Cay, Long Island; Spring Point, Acklins; Fresh Creek, Andros; Landrail Point, Crooked Island, as well as the Eleuthera communities of Hatchet Bay, Lower Bogue and Spanish Wells.
“It is important to understand that the improvements to our clinics will translate into improvements in the patient experience throughout out public health system,” he said.
In April 2012, The National Insurance Board signed a $12 million contract with Coastline Construction to create the new community hospital in Marsh Harbour.
At the time, the facility was scheduled for completion within 60 weeks.
Abaco residents have complained that the stalled construction left them to cope with “substandard” medical facilities.