NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The government yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Carnival Corporation for the remediation of the Rand Memorial Hospital, which has been shuttered since the passage of Hurricane Dorian.
The monstrous Category 5 storm, which devastated parts Grand Bahama and Abaco, debilitated the government’s ability to deliver health care services in the storm-ravaged areas.
As a result, 75 percent of the square footage of the Rand had to be taken out of commission, due to blackwater intrusion – water mixed with stool or sewage – and subsequent mold overgrowth.
“Over the last half a century, a company that is an integral part of our tourism product, has found The Bahamas to be their home, and recognizing the challenge with the Rand Memorial Hospital and Health Services in Grand Bahama in general, they have decided to partner with the Ministry of Health and the Public Hospitals Authority to help us to remediate the challenges at the Rand,” said Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands, during the signing.
“And so together with at least one other organization Direct Relief, the Carnival Corporation has committed to remediate the Rand Memorial Hospital to get it up and running and also to equip the hospital.”
The project comprises two critical restoration initiatives, including remediation and basic repairs for the facility and replacing damaged medical equipment.
The restoration will also include the completion of a new kitchen – which also suffered significant damage as a result of the storm.
Carnival Corporation’s Senior Vice President Michael Kaczmarek said: “The actual cost is substantial and we are pressed for time because of the potential for mold, so we are trying to combine a somewhat tight budget with a limited time and be able to do as much as we can within that time, but it is a substantial costs.”
Funding and resources for repairs, equipment replacement, meals and volunteer service are being provided by donations from the Carnival Foundation, its global cruise line brands and guests and Micky and Madeline Arison Family Foundation.
Asked whether the company is confident those repairs will be done in time for the hospital’s projected reopening, Kaczmarek continued: “We are going to be doing those critical repairs and remediation that address the storm. So yes, we are confident, and we are going to be working double benefits and we will do everything we can to get done well before then.”
He added that the project will utilize Bahamian laborers as well specialists from Puerto Rico and volunteers from the Grand Bahama Shipyard.
In the aftermath of the storm, several international organizations, including Samaritan’s Purse, sent volunteers to assist with the delivery of health care. The Rand Memorial Hospital, the High Rock Clinic, health facilities in McClean’s Town and a number of east Grand Bahama facilities were lost during the storm.
In the interim, there are Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs) providing service to a number of areas on the island.
Samaritan’s Purse has extended its engagement until March 2020.
Sands said yesterday that they are hopeful that the remediation of the Rand is completed by this time and health care services would have already moved back into the facility.