FUTURE OF ST JUDE HOSPITAL STILL IFFY!
In its quest for better healthcare Saint Lucia moves cautiously ahead, careful not to sink deeper into the hole of despair. While the prime minister readies to impose a scheme that will offer island-wide health insurance, many here have their hearts set on one day seeing the establishment of functioning hospitals. The St. Jude Hospital, located in the south of the island, has been housed in the delapidated George Odlum Sports Stadium for nearly nine years. Efforts to return the hospital’s operations to the original location it occupied before it was partially destroyed by fire, have resulted mostly in an administrative blame game. Recently efforts were made to replace the roof of the stadium, declared a health hazard since 2014. However, works had to be halted following at least one publicized complaint by a staff doctor.
Said the hospital’s CEO, Verna Charles, in a press statement: “Things were going just fine but then in the second week of repair work we experienced some challenges with our staff on compound.”
This week Saint Lucia hosted the Windward Island School Games in the vicinity of the stadium. Earlier, Sports Minister Edmund Estaphane promised that asbestos at the site would present no immediate danger to the athletes or others attending the games.
Shortly before this week’s parliament meeting, the Economics Development Minister Guy Joseph announced that roof works at the stadium had been put on hold. “There are some issues raised by the labour department on health and safety,” he said. “As a government we are required to abide by the rules so we are waiting for the final confirmation that they have met all of the requirements.” The games, he said, was another reason for the interruption of repair works.
Brice and Company, who were tasked with completing the roof refurbishment over a month-long period, declared two weeks into the project that the work was nearly 80% done and predicted it may be completed much earlier than anticipated.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has publicly declared, with expressed regret, that the George Odlum Stadium will house the St Jude Hospital for the next two years.
On Tuesday Minister Guy Joseph offered this update: “We have to go through the process of approval. We’ve said the hospital will be in operation 18 months after the start of construction. So, until we have completed these processes, we won’t be in a position to announce an actual commencement date.”
Roof works halted at the George Odlum Stadium after health and safety concerns arise.