Minister of Health and Wellness shares plans for a new Hospital with NP Residents

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Members of the community at the town meeting for a New Hospital.

NASSAU, The Bahamas — The government is making good on its promise as outlined in its ‘Blueprint for Change’ – to build a new hospital in New Providence to ease burdens on the existing Princess Margaret Hospital.

Towards this end, the Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville facilitated two town hall meetings in the area of the proposed site on New Providence Highway– to get input from residents in the community. He was joined by officials from the Public Hospitals Authority, the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, Cabinet Ministers and relevant ministries and agencies.

The meetings attracted capacity crowds to the Stapledon School Auditorium on Dolphin Drive, and Living Waters Kingdom Ministries on Warren Street, Oakes Field on Tuesday, May 14, and Thursday, May 16, 2024, respectively.

Classified as a specialty hospital, the facility will house 200 beds and focus on the needs of women and children.  It will in addition offer other health care services such as a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, a morgue, technology to assist in infection prevention and control measures, surgeries and minor procedures, diagnostic and imaging services, a blood bank and other services, and function as a teaching hospital.

The facility will be constructed on 50 acres and financed through a $290 million loan application with the Chinese Export-Import Bank through a Chinese Concessional Loan Facility.

The hospital is expected to be built within 36 months as a high-rise structure with  “one of the most sophisticated green facilities in the entire region.”

He also advised that if the Ministry of Environment gives the go-ahead, the government intends to build the hospital on the proposed site.

Dr. Darville revealed that four sites were considered as to where to build the hospital but the other three locations were rejected. He said, “The first site was off of Gladstone Road but it was in a flood zone. That means that we would not be able to access the hospital in the event of any hurricane or tidal flooding.  So that site was ruled out based on flooding.”

The other sites that were considered were opposite the Ministry of Works on J.F.  Kennedy Drive but geotechnical studies showed sinkholes and caves which are not conducive to maintaining a multi-story facility; and other locations were too small, Dr. Darville explained.

Mixed reactions rang throughout the town meetings from doctors who voiced staffing concerns, particularly in the wake of many nurses leaving the country, and from residents in the community worried about noise pollution, traffic woes, “devaluation” of property, and environmental issues among other concerns.

Acknowledging the concerns, Dr. Darville said, “They are three very important questions. The first question is the economic impact this facility will have on the real estate nearby. The real estate will go up. There’s no question about it. The value of your asset will go up.

“The second question, as it relates to noise pollution and traffic, I live in the East. I gotta get up at six o’clock in the morning to get to work for 9 a.m., so everywhere in [New Providence] is filled with traffic. We need an overpass in [New Providence] and we have to work toward it because the traffic is an issue.

“Now, as far as our EMT services are concerned, our EMT services must be very sensitive to noise pollution as well as the sirens from our police officers. We have to come up with a strategy in the country, [and look at what] other countries have done to mitigate and manage noise pollution brought on by sirens.”

Dr. Darville also said a traffic team is examining how best to ensure traffic flows as efficiently as possible into the facility.

“The reason why this is such an appropriate site is as our family members come from the Family Islands and need to access services, they can come via airport and move directly to this facility,” he said.

Dr. Darville envisioned that the hospital would help with the government’s medical tourism efforts as some visitors are generally not satisfied with the infrastructure that currently exists at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), which was built in 1952.

“It will also be a telemedicine hub where physicians in far-flung areas will have support from various specialists,” he said.

And moving forward, he said, “We are going somewhere and we are moving in the direction to deliver tertiary healthcare facilities, and provide National Health Insurance where every citizen in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas will be a private patient eligible to access services in state-of-the-art facilities with well-trained manpower resources.”   (BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna)

Minister Michael Darville leading the case for a New Hospital at a Town Meeting.