NASSAU, BAHAMAS- The government will have to request an extension of the 90-day memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Samaritan’s Purse International Relief Organization to continue the delivery of health services in Grand Bahama and Abaco, according to Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands.
Sands underscored the extent of the damage to health facilities on the islands in an interview with reporters outside Cabinet on Tuesday.
“The majority of the Rand [Memorial Hospital] is out of commission,” Sands told reporters.
There would have been what we call blackwater intrusion and blackwater intrusion is water mixed with stool or sewerage.
“That would have been throughout most of the Rand except the areas including the emergency room, the dire ward, and imaging or x-ray and the lab.
So roughly 75 percent of the square footage of the Rand has been taken out of commission because when we went back in, there’s now mold overgrowth.”
Sands said a solution for healthcare in Grand Bahama has to be formulated before Samaritan’s Purse leaves.
“So what we are going to do, we are going to tear out whatever is contaminated and we are going to see what’s left,” he continued.
“And then the reconstruction of the Rand on that site will depend on whether or not it is feasible to rebuild or whether we have to now use modular structures to recreate the wards.
“That said, it is the hope that we have the wherewithal, at some point, to build a brand new climate resilient Rand Memorial Hospital,
“That clearly can’t happen in six months.”
Hurricane Dorian, the strongest storm to hit the Northwest Bahamas, devastated both Grand Bahama and Abaco, debilitating the government’s ability to deliver health care services.
In the aftermath of the storm, several international organizations, including Samaritan’s Purse, sent volunteers to assist with the delivery of health care.
“As you know we would have lost the High Rock Clinic and there is Emergency Medical Team (EMT) providing service there,” Sands explained.
“We have lost McClean’s Town, [and] we have lost a number of the east Grand Bahama facilities.
“But we are well on the way of negotiating solutions for the replacement of health capacity in Grand Bahama and in Abaco.
“Some of those things will be with the cooperation of a number of international donors and with local reconstruction.”
In the interim, as the government seeks to find a solution to this problem, Sands said, “We are going to ask [Samaritan’s Purse] to extend, but that facility will be left in place even after they leave and so some of the services provided at Samaritan’s Purse by their staff will continue with the Rand Memorial staff.”
The health minister added, “We cannot afford an interruption in care. So while those EMTs provide services initially, when they leave, we have to grab the baton and run.”