New hospital finally completed; Health Minister appeals for donations

The original article can be found in: BVI News Online

After more than a decade in the making, the relatively expensive dream of a new Peebles Hospital has finally been fulfilled.

The facility, which accounts for 83.73% of the territory’s debt, carries a price tag of approximately $100M for the construction phase. It will cost an additional $16M to become fully operational.

With that in mind, the government is now rallying support from the public to help in offsetting the future expense.

At the official handing over ceremony for the facility on Thursday (October 31), Health Minister Ronnie Skelton made a public appeal for assistance.

“We invite the entire community to be a part of this historic development by pledging your contribution in the weeks and months ahead, as the {BVI Health Services} Authority finalizes arrangement to establish a charitable trust for this purpose,” he said. “Whatever it is, if it’s just the hospital bed or a wheel chair, we will take it.”

The additional $16 million quoted earlier will reportedly cover the cost to undertake the relocation from the old hospital building, as well as to purchase new equipment.

According to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Petrona Davies, $10M of the $16M will go towards the purchasing of equipment alone.

“The transitioning to the new hospital, the equipment, furnishing, and all that is required to make the hospital functional, we have budgeted that at just over 16 million,” Davies told BVI News Online.

“We’ve had approaches (financial offers) from a number of local companies, and we encourage more to do so. And whatever the shortfall is, it’s that amount that the government would have to sources through other means.”

Added Davies: “We [are] still tendering for the transition management project. Once that plan is on board, we will have a clearer sense of the time frame in terms of specific elements, and how soon they will be ready.”

The new hospital, which has seven floors, has the ability to accommodate 120 beds when fully outfitted.

The basement level is equipped with an IT room, and biomedical facilities.

Other amenities include a pharmacy, catering and dining area, gift shop, physical therapy unit, hydrotherapy pool, and a psychiatric ward.

The National Democratic Party government will on Thursday officially fulfill its promise to complete the construction phase of the New Peebles Hospital on Tortola.

A press advisory from the Government Information Service said an official handing over ceremony is to take place at the facility on Thursday afternoon (October 31).

“The Ministry of Health and Social Development is pleased to announce the substantial completion of the construction phase of the New Peebles Hospital project,” the press advisory said.

“As a significant component of the government’s national development strategy and the Ministry’s national health strategy, this completion marks an important milestone toward our goal of territory-wide infrastructure development for the improvement of our health services delivery.”

Although the hospital will be handed over on Thursday, it will not be opened to the public until about March of next year.

Health Minister Ronnie Skelton recently gave that tentative date, noting that the necessary equipment and furniture are yet to be installed.

Skelton, during a recent sitting of the House of Assembly, also disclosed that no tender has been invited for the procurement of medical equipment for the new facility.

He said the estimated cost of the equipment as of December 2012 totalled just over $13M (excluding shipping and installation costs). Of that $13M, over $3M worth of Architecturally Significant Equipment has already been procured.

In relation to transitioning from the old Peebles Hospital to the new location, the government this month invited tenders for bids which must be submitted by November 12.

The new hospital project, which has been delayed for years, has significantly over-shot its initial budget. Up to recently, it had gobbled up approximately $100M for construction alone.

Premier Dr. D. Orlando Smith, in April of this year, disclosed that the New Peebles Hospital also accounted for 83.73% of the national debt of the BVI.

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