Non-emergency surgeries resume at PMH

Repairs to “sabotaged” chiller system to cost $1.2 million

Non-emergency surgeries will resume at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) today after a chiller system was installed overnight in the Critical Care Block, the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) confirmed.

“All patients whose procedure were cancelled during the temporary suspension will be rescheduled appropriately,” read the statement.

It continued, “Full restoration of the system, following the installation of a rental chiller unit, was conducted last night.

“The installation of the 250-ton rental chiller unit will provide service to the CCB during the upgrade of the new permanent chiller system at the hospital.

“It is anticipated that the installation of the new chillers will extend over the next five months.

“As a result of the impending works, the main driveway to the legacy entrance (former main entrance) of the Princess Margaret Hospital located off Shirley Street at Burnside Lane will be closed to vehicular traffic.”

All scheduled major surgical procedures for the hospital theaters were halted last week as the PHA said it was challenged with maintenance, power failures, and “possible sabotage” of its chiller system.

The damage to the chiller system will cost a reported $1.2 million.

The PHA brought in rental units this week at a cost of $20,000.

The units will cost the PHA $8,500 per month for the next five months, according to officials.

In a statement last week, the PHA said, “The public is hereby advised that with immediate effect, all scheduled major surgical procedures for the operating theaters at the Princess Margaret Hospital have been suspended.

“Only emergency cases will be facilitated at this time.”

It added, “Following months of challenges associated with maintenance, power failures and possible sabotage, PMH has commenced works to facilitate the installation of an upgrade to the chiller system of the Critical Care Block (CCB) and will engage the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) to investigate a possible compromise in security.”

In a separate interview, Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) President Kimsley Ferguson said he believes the PHA and minister have claimed sabotage to “hide their incompetence”.

Ferguson, who represents the workers in the engineering department, asserted that the chiller unit was old and expressed confidence that no one tampered with the system.

“Politicians are finding persons to use as scapegoat to cover their own incompetence,” he charged.

“If you have a unit and [run] it 24/7 you will find that wear and tear will happen, and so, as a result of that those chillers were bad and we knew that [for] a while.

“Now they are replacing the old with new.

“You cannot sabotage a chiller.”

Ferguson also dismissed any suggestion that unionized members were to blame, insisting that even in the case of industrial action, employees would never jeopardize the lives of anyone.

He said, “If there was any sort of industrial action taking place we would not jeopardize the lives of Bahamians to get the point across and so the claims of sabotage are ludicrous.”

Despite the union president’s statement, Sands has maintained that the chiller was sabotaged, but has yet to expound of what has led authorities to that conclusion.

He said, “We would not have made a statement as serious as that, unless we were absolutely convinced the was merit to making it,” Sands added.