Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis touring PMH maternity wards. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis returned to his old stomping grounds for his first official tour as the country’s leader, promising the country and staff at the Princess Margaret Hospital a new maternity wing.
While he was short on details, Dr Minnis stressed that Bahamian women and children deserved the best and declared that the new wing would be on par or greater than the multi-million dollar Critical Care Block.
“What I will tell you is that we will build a new child health and maternity wing,” the former minister of health told reporters after meeting with hospital officials.
“The children and the women of this country need and deserve the best, and they will get the best. So what you’re seeing out front, the Critical Care Block, they will have something just as great if not greater.”
The Critical Care Block cost the government more than $50m in construction costs and $45m in medical equipment, management information systems and furniture, according to former Prime Minister Perry Christie at the facility’s ribbon-cutting in September 2015.
Last year, the government signed a $14.9m contract for the renovations of the maternity and male surgical wards at PMH. In opposition at the time, Dr Minnis advocated heavily for the upgrades to be delayed as he felt the timing of renovations would negatively impact patient care. Bahamas Doctors Union President Dr Charles Clarke also expressed similar concerns.
Yesterday, Dr Minnis said he did not know when that project would be finished, and underscored that oversight of the Ministry of Health portfolio will be undertaken by Dr Duane Sands, who recently won the Elizabeth constituency. Dr Sands was sworn in at Government House yesterday.
It is unclear how far the upgrades progressed under the former administration.
Yesterday Dr Sands said that he was eager to get to work and commence fact-finding on the matter and other issues.
Dr Minnis, an obstetrician and gynaecologist by profession, said he planned to routinely visit the hospital to commune with former mentees and colleagues, just as he did before he took office.
“I worked here,” he said, “my heart has been here and will always remain here. I came to visit the staff, I promised them that after election I would continue to follow the pattern I’ve always maintained. From time to time, I’ve always come over and had coffee with the staff in labour and maternity and the kitchen personnel, that’s a part of me and that will always be me. So from time to time I will be here having coffee with those individuals who I trained and worked with.”