Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
THE Ministry of Health and The Public Hospitals Authority signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday with Carnival Corporation & PLC to support the restoration of the Rand Memorial Hospital following Hurricane Dorian.
Health Minister Dr Duane Sands said the partnership will provide funding for flood damage repairs at the Rand and will also assist with the replacement of damaged medical equipment.
“At the Rand Memorial Hospital, one of the major healthcare facilities in The Bahamas, there was a significant problem with black water flooding, so much so that we have had to take out of commission about 75 per cent of the square footage,” he told reporters during a press conference at the ministry yesterday.
“Recognising the challenge with the Rand Memorial Hospital and health services in Grand Bahama in general (the Carnival Corporation & PLC) have decided to partner with the Minister of Health and the Public Hospitals Authority to help us remediate the challenges at the Rand.”
Speaking to reporters yesterday, senior vice president of Carnival Corporation & PLC Captain Michael Kaczmarek said the company was grateful to offer help in the wake of this natural disaster.
“We met with government and one of the things what the government told us was we would like ya’ll to do two things – to get your business restarted again and to start bringing cruise ships back to Grand Bahama island and we’d also like some help with the hospital,” he said.
“We have a long relationship with The Bahamas, and we feel as partners that it just makes sense for us to be able to help out in these areas where we can so thank you for that opportunity.”
In September, Dr Sands revealed that the total cost to repair the Rand will roughly be around $19m.
However, it is unclear what the total cost would be in assisting with the critical repairs of the Rand in view of this partnership.
“The actual cost is uncertain, but it’s substantial and we are pressed for time because of the potential for mould. We’re trying to combine a somewhat tight budget with a limited time in being able to do as much as we can. But it is a substantial cost,” Captain Kaczmarek said.
When asked about the labour efforts, Captain Kaczmarek replied that the majority of the labour workforce will be made up of volunteers from the Grand Bahama shipyard.
“We will probably use some Bahamians and we have a few specialists coming in from Puerto Rico doing the same kind of work, but the majority of the labour effort will actually be coming from the Grand Bahama shipyard,” he said.
The Rand Memorial Hospital is expected to be opened by the end of this year. However, Dr Sands said full remediation of the Rand is not expected to be completed until March 2020.
“If we are going to rebuild Grand Bahama, we have to have safe delivery of healthcare and people are not going to want to remain in temporary facilities indefinitely and so we believe that the safe remediation and repair of the Rand is exactly what the doctor ordered. So let’s get back into a facility that is safe and reliable,” he added.
“We also believe that there should be a consolidation of the number of clinics in Grand Bahama. In the PAH system in Grand Bahama, we have nine facilities now, including Grand Cay. There’s probably no need for nine clinics and so the way forward, we imagine a leaner more effective system of clinics that are better designed, more appropriate to the threats and to the care that the public demands and deserves and more importantly, which is heavily focused on community outreach.”