Works are near completion to convert the Victoria Hospital into a dedicated respiratory hospital in keeping with a policy decision made by the Government as a part of the national COVID-19 response strategy.
The retrofitted hospital is expected to accommodate up to 80 COVID-19 patients with the required isolation, distancing, sanitation, and air purification and circulation measures in place to ensure a safe environment for treatment. The design allows for segregated processing and treatment of patients with suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 and even patients in different stages of treatment and recovery to ensure maximum patient care and safety.
DVRP funds have provided critical counterpart financing to initial Government investments towards this effort – about 55 percent of the 80-bed capacity resides in wards and wings rehabilitated under the DVRP.
The scope of the ongoing works involves substantive retrofits throughout the entire facility, including electrical, plumbing and masonry works, partitioning and installation of sliding doors as a part of the isolation measures, painting, upgrading of the air purification and circulation system to ensure proper air flow and avoid cross contamination of air between treatment spaces and even construction of new donning and doffing stations for doctors and nurses. The construction being done by Skelly Construction Services Ltd. with supervision provided by TEAMS Inc. is scheduled for completion by early September 2020.
An Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP) has been prepared for the works and can be found at the Government of Saint Lucia website – http://www.govt.lc/.
This ESMP provides the requirements that will be followed to ensure the protection of healthcare workers, waste handlers and the community from environmental and social risks associated with the retrofitting activity. The risks are associated with waste management, infection control, health and safety, and timely and clear public information. This ESMP will ensure that the retrofitting is done in compliance with national and regional environmental regulations and is consistent with international best practices and World Bank safeguards policies.
While catering to the immediate needs of COVID-19, the investments in upgrading the Victoria Hospital under the DVRP CERC will generally improve health care facilities and services in Saint Lucia. Improvements in health care are an important part of a comprehensive response to climate change which increases the human health risk from natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods.
In that vein, investments under the CERC are not limited to Victoria Hospital, but also include electrical upgrading works at the Gros Islet Polyclinic (completed) and procurement of eleven water tanks (1,000 gallon capacity each) to be installed for rainwater harvesting applications at that facility as well as at the La Clery Health Center and the Soufriere Hospital. Contractors will be given the water tanks and will be responsible for the installation of the rainwater harvesting systems. Through earlier DVRP initiatives, a Code of Practice for Rainwater Harvesting in Saint Lucia and training of 13 plumbers in rainwater harvesting system installation was completed.