Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.
By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said on Monday Grand Bahama would have “a hospital” as soon as possible but did not indicate whether a new facility will be built as previously promised during his party’s election campaign.
He was questioned about when a new hospital would be built for Grand Bahama during Monday’s HoA signing for a new $64m medical school in Freeport.
The Rand Memorial Hospital was severely damaged during Hurricane Dorian, which resulted in flooding of over 70 percent of the hospital.
Water levels reached up to four to five feet in some areas, and concerns were raised by staff about safety at the facility due to the exposure of black water intrusion (raw sewerage).
In early October, many hospital workers, including hospital administrators, took to Facebook saying that a new facility is immediately needed for Grand Bahama.
On Monday, following the announcement of a proposed 98,000 sq ft medical campus by Western Atlantic University School of Medicine, The Tribune asked the prime minister when a new hospital would be constructed in Grand Bahama.
He responded tersely: “We will ensure that you have a hospital as quickly as possible. Other question?”
Rand Memorial Hospital not only served as the only public health facility on the island, it is also a teaching hospital that provides practical training for medical students, including doctors and nurses.
Samaritan’s Purse currently operates a field hospital on a 90-day agreement in Freeport. The government has recently sought an extension to the agreement.
In early October, Health Minister Dr Duane Sands told this newspaper that the government was still committed to a building a new hospital but said it requires proper planning, a private-public partnership, and funding.
With the Rand closed, PLP Senator Dr Michael Darville has questioned where medical students would, including those at the proposed Western Atlantic University School of Medicine, receive their practical training.
He also noted that WAUSM is newly incorporated and has not yet received accreditation from an accreditation body, which, among other things, undermines its integrity as a reputable university.
Senator Darville criticised the government, accusing the Minnis administration of “putting the cart before the horse” with the HoA signing. He questioned the “credibility” of government’s HoA, which he said raises questions and requires much clarification.
“Where is the signed MoU between the university and the Ministry of Health? What is the status of our ongoing medical training programme with the University of the West Indies?” he asked.
Dr Darville also asked whether the Bahamas Medical Council, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Health participated in the negotiations.
Since the announcement of the new medical school, Dr Darville, former Minister for Grand Bahama in the Christie administration, claims that “many healthcare professionals have contacted me to express concern, especially over the university’s recent incorporation.”
“We remind the FNM that governments are elected to protect the public interest and conducting necessary due diligence on all investment proposals and investors is necessary to protect the country’s international reputation,” he said.