NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson yesterday said reconstruction of the Rand Memorial Hospital is expected to be completed next month.
Thompson made the revelation in a statement hitting back at criticisms from the Progressive Liberal Party over the government’s mitigation efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus on Grand Bahama.
“The situation in Grand Bahama, as we have been saying for some time, is very serious,” he said.
“It cannot be understated that our numbers are not yet at an acceptable level and the public must take the health warnings and restrictions seriously.
“If we in Grand Bahama are to overcome this virus we must come together in unity, supporting each other, especially our health officials.”
Grand Bahama has recorded 438 cases to date.
The island was placed on a two-week lockdown following an explosion of cases in mid-July and has now become a hotspot for the virus.
The Bahamas has now surpassed 1,000 cases of COVID-19. Another 47 cases were confirmed yesterday, pushing the total number of cases to 1,036. Of the new cases, 40 are in New Providence, five are in Cat Island, and one case each in Abaco and Exuma.
In a joint statement on Monday, Senator Michael Darville and Dr Melissa Evans, co-chairs of the PLP COVID-19 taskforce, accused the government of neglecting the needs of the people on Grand Bahama.
“People are suffering,” the statement read.
“They need to know what the government is doing to keep them safe, what facilities and protocols are in place, and what resources are being provided to look after them.
“Grand Bahama is still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Dorian. It is now a major hotspot for COVID-19 infections, and yet, the best the prime minister could offer is to concede that conditions on the island are ‘grave’.”
The PLP statement questioned how many people are being tested every day, whether the government is only testing people who appear to be sick and whether the government is following international protocols.
It further questioned the resources and protocols for isolation, quarantining and contact tracing of those who may be exposed or infected and called for clarity on the capacity of the Rand Memorial Hospital, its Intensive Care Unit, and the Cancer Society building in Grand Bahama that will be used to treat COVID patients.
Yesterday, Thompson sought to reassure residents of Grand Bahama that the government is working diligently and aggressively with the relative agencies to address all COVID-related challenges.
The minister advised that construction workers are working feverishly to complete the $21 million rebuild of the Rand Memorial Hospital.
Thompson noted that a new healing garden/new corridor, a new roof, a new foyer, a new pharmacy and admissions, a new Paediatrics Ward, a new medical and surgical block are being constructed.
“We expect work to be completed sometime in September,” he said.
“Contrary to critics, construction of a new Covid19 Center on property was started several months ago and should be ready for occupants in a few weeks.
“While this will not be a new hospital it most certainly will be a new Rand Memorial Hospital.”
He further advised that the Cancer Association has been utilized for COVID-19 patients since the beginning of the second wave.
The center has 6 negative pressure rooms that can accommodate 6-12 patients and an additional 10 beds. Currently, only COVID-19 patients or persons under-investigation are housed there while clinical inpatient services are managed at two off-site locations.
Thompson also advised that the Grand Bahama Health Services COVID-19 Task Force follows the national protocols for testing and contact tracing that are based on international guidelines.
“Our nation’s response ought not be politicized, as it is vital that we stand united against this giant foe,” he said.
“The prime minister has consistently offered an olive branch to the opposition who recently had the opportunity to meet with and ask any questions to the top medical officials however, many of the issues raised in their public statement where not raised to the health officials.
“Our intent is to do the best with what resources we have and to identify solutions for all deficiencies encountered.
“The pandemic is our collective problem and our collective responsibility.”