PRESS RELEASE – THE St. Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project (SJHRP) has spread over three administrations between 2009 and the present and, according to the St. Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project (SJHRP) Audit Report, cost taxpayers of this country over EC$100 million. The report also identified structural/design deficiencies and lack of compliance with international standards as major shortcomings of the medical facility under construction.
The Vieux Fort Concerned Citizens Coalition for Change (VF4Cs) does not wish to be drawn into any blame game for this situation. It has now become commonplace in St. Lucia’s current political environment to blame someone for bad, insensitive and costly decisions.
However, the public pronouncement by the Minister of Health and Wellness, Senator Mary Isaac, that the Government of Saint Lucia is giving active consideration to demolishing the reconstructed St. Jude Hospital is, in the view of the VF4Cs an unconscionable, insensitive, absurd and reckless response to the situation.
The option to demolish the hospital has been aggressively supported by Minister Guy Joseph, thereby generating widespread disbelief, anger, anxiety and concern not just among citizens of Saint Lucia resident in the south and in other parts of the island but also among other citizens of Saint Lucia based in foreign countries.
In arriving at any decision concerning the future of the reconstructed St. Jude Hospital, the VF4Cs wishes the Government of Saint Lucia to weigh the significance of the following facts and other matters of interest about the medical facility:
1. The reliable, excellent and affordable healthcare provided by the institution to thousands of Saint Lucians, especially those resident in the south, over the past 50 years;
2. The cost of alternative healthcare services if southern residents are deprived of St. Jude;
3. The role of the hospital in promoting economic growth and development in Vieux Fort and other southern districts;
4. The tremendous display of support by southern residents to restore and upgrade St. Jude Hospital, as quickly as possible, after it was partially destroyed by the fire of September 9, 2009.
5. The length of time, i.e. almost eight years, that southern residents have been waiting patiently for the reconstruction of St. Jude to be completed;
6. Opinions from independent technical people with respect to addressing the “structural deficiencies” and “non-compliance with international standards” identified in the technical audit;
7. The imminent state of collapse of the roof of the George Odlum Stadium and the continuing suitability of this facility to serve as a temporary hospital;
8. The length of time it will take to conceptualize, construct and commission a new state-of- the-art hospital;
9. The necessity of having a hospital in close proximity to Hewanorra International Airport;
The Government of Saint Lucia must act decisively and give the people of the south their healthcare facility as quickly as possible. It cannot leave them with the prospect of facing certain death from accidents, emergencies, delivery complications, epidemics, etc. due to the unavailability of a public hospital in the south. The good health of the people cannot be a matter for political football.