The Government of Saint Lucia’s Senior Communications Officer (SCO) Nicole Mc Donald says the Government will not put the people of the south in a worse position than they are now with regard to St. Jude Hospital.
Speaking exclusively with the St. Lucia Times, Ms. Mc Donald responded to calls by former CMO Dr. Stephen King to move patients out of the George Odlum Stadium and into sections of the by all accounts “poorly constructed” new structure.
The SCO took the local media on a tour of the facility last week where they got to see up close some of the issues with the building which is said to have already cost the people of Saint Lucia $118 Million.
Consultant engineer Norman St Ville led the tour where he showed the media the low ceilings, poor ventilation, steep and narrow walkways, small operating rooms, sharp corners, that were unsuitable to house a hospital.
According to the Engineer, after all this time, the structure is only 50 percent complete.
Speaking with St. Lucia Times, Ms. Mc Donald explained that she believed more people need to have access to the site to see for themselves.
“All right thinking Saint Lucians share with Dr. King the wish that all in our country should have the best health care money can buy,” Ms. Mc Donald told the St Lucia Times Wednesday.
“The St. Jude problem is not a yesterday thing. And Dr. King has been well placed to know all the details that have created the current situation. The fact that this issue has been allowed to go on for so long, unchecked for years, with millions of dollars spent on a structure to which no caring government would subject its people to. As Dr. Stephen King, with his extensive involvement in Saint Lucia’s health-care sector over several years, knows we all want Project St. Jude completed. But wishes alone cannot deliver without positive action. We have to act as a Government and make the best decision with all the facts before us.”
Hence she stressed the importance of the audit, stating: “The technical audit carried out on the hospital was in its circumstances imperative. It revealed the extent to which the project went awry over several years. Had the audit not been undertaken, as some would have preferred, we would have been unaware of the serious flaws now uncovered. The previous administration was operating with its eyes shut. Dr. King himself revealed as much when he said three weeks ago, when he was a guest on the TV show TALK that the main cause of the problems now associated with the building of the new St Jude was “lack of oversight.”
Ms. Mc Donald called on Dr. King to explain what he meant by “lack of oversight.”
“Lack of oversight by whom? What exactly did Dr. King mean by lack of oversight? As Chief Medical Officer Dr. King must’ve been close to all that went on with regard to St. Jude,” she said.
Meanwhile, the SCO said that the Government is moving speedily to address this matter.
“The Government of Saint Lucia has been engaging the Board of St Jude on the way forward and we will keep working with the Board to come to a satisfactory decision on what to do next. We are fully aware of the urgency of this matter, which is precisely why we undertook the audit. Contrary to the counterproductive spreaders of fake news, the government never decided to demolish the St. Jude hospital under construction. But we are looking at our best options in the circumstances. We are also committed, as soon as possible, to provide patients and staff of St Jude a safe and comfortable health facility.”
Ms. Mc Donald however was not dismissive of Dr. King’s comments and welcomed his efforts as’ we are all stakeholders’.
“While we have always appreciated Dr. King’s point of view, he knows that the George Odlum stadium did not deteriorate overnight. The phased approached idea mentioned by Dr. King to your news site is not a new. In fact, it is among the options currently being given consideration by the government. Under no circumstances, however, will we move sick people to a location worse than their present one. That would be both irresponsible and uncaring.
“The people of the South, as elsewhere in Saint Lucia, deserve better. While we agree the St. Jude issue concerns all St. Lucians, we should guard against turning it into a political football match. We should also keep in mind that shortly before the 2016 general elections the previous prime minister publicly confirmed all was well with the construction of St. Jude. It was his election promise that thanks to his government St. Lucians were about to receive a state of the art hospital. The reality is that either the then prime minister knew not what he was talking about or was misled. This would be a good time to hear from him on his stewardship as far as St Jude is concerned!”