By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
A $90m contract was signed yesterday to expand and upgrade infrastructure at Princess Margaret Hospital and the Rand Memorial in Grand Bahama.
The agreement struck between the BECK Group, along with the Public Hospitals Authority and the Ministry of Health enables construction of a new maternal and child health tower at the east of PMH’s Critical Care Block.
This 96,288 square foot facility is estimated to cost $55m inclusive of furniture, fixtures and architecturally significant equipment among other things.
As for the Rand, a new four level tower on the site of the demolished administration and OB/GYN wings will be built. This part of the project is valued at $30.6m.
The elevated structure addresses concerns about flooding, which particularly came to the forefront following Hurricane Dorian’s devastation in Grand Bahama.
Included in the cost is also a percentage allocated for investments and improvements throughout PMH. A large investment of about $5m is also earmarked for the infectious diseases unit, which came about as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is also an investment allocated for wards throughout PMH and three wards at the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre.
Officials said the estimated completion time frame is 24 to 30 months and 90 percent of all the money spent for the project will be spent locally.
Health Minister Renward Wells said the government is confident in the track record of the BECK Group.
“The BECK Group has a solid track record of performance in partnership with the PHA when redeveloping our public hospitals here in The Bahamas,” Mr Wells said at the contract signing ceremony at the Cabinet Office.
“The design, construction and commissioning of the Critical Care Block at Princess Margaret Hospital remains one of the most outstanding advances in healthcare development for our nation. This project was completed as a result of the fine efforts and professionalism exhibited by the BECK Group in tandem with the PHA, local architects and contractors.
“The BEC Group, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and PHA has provided crucial inputs for the improvement of health facilities, including the production of a 2015 masterplan for the strategic redevelopment of our public hospitals.”
He added: “…The BECK Group will utilise the top Bahamian talent available for the architectural and engineering component of these projects. Local contractors in New Providence and Grand Bahama who meet requirements will be elected through a fair, transparent and fully accountable process and at the end of the day, the Bahamian people will see the results for themselves.”
Fred Perpall, BECK Group principal, said the contract signing felt good as it was the right step towards national development.
“At BECK we’ve been in business for 110 years and we have the fortune to build buildings all across the United States and Latin America and while I’ve taken pride in being the CEO for the last nine years, there is no project that feels like this, no project that feels more important than helping to rebuild the hospital where I was born, where my wife was born, where my mother was born and where the people I love most come for service.
“So, today is a particular point of pride for me and for all my colleagues at BECK. I want you to know as a nation and an administration that we intend to ensure that these projects get all that we have to offer and then more.”
While the expansions of both facilities are welcomed, a stigma about the quality of care at PMH and the Rand has loomed for decades.
Asked about this, Hospital Administrator Mary Walker said there was ongoing training of staff.
“The Princess Margaret Hospital and indeed the Public Hospitals Authority is committed to the improvement of our human resource persons employed,” Mrs Walker said in response to a question from The Tribune.
“As a part of the urgent care project and the critical care project over the years we have enhanced the performance of our employees through training and continual training. All the training that we carry out is focused primarily with the project that we are doing. So, with critical care we focused on the training for critical needs of persons like in intensive care, the neonatal intensive care and all the support services that are provided within that block.
“In the Accident and Emergency redevelopment that is ongoing at this present time those staff would have started their training processes approximately six months ago to coincide with when the project will be completed. As we now move to progress into the planning for this new block once again our human resources will be enhanced through continual training.”
In a statement released last night, the PHA said as a result of reaching maximum admission capacity, PMH was forced to reallocate clinic personnel to strengthen hospital operations.
As of today, the Agape Clinic 4th Terrace Centreville will now operate between the hours of 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. Limited Walk-in patients will be accommodated.
Additionally, the public is advised that the Emergency Department is only accepting emergency cases. In the event of a medical emergency, please call National Emergency Medical Services dispatchers at 919 or contact the PMH Emergency Department at 326-7014.