Professor McDonald, who provided an update during a press briefing at the Grand-A-View Restaurant and Event Place in Montego Bay, St. James, last Thursday (December 12), said while slight challenges were experienced in the project’s execution, the committee’s members “are encouraged by what we see”, in relation to the completion.
He told journalists that the project is being executed in three phases, noting that work on the roof of the 10th floor, under the first phase, has been completed.
Professor McDonald said phase two, which includes the demolition of interior walls and further strengthening of the hospital roof, is “progressing well”.
Additionally, he advised that the committee is now seeking to engage a contractor for the third phase.
“We are now going through the process of engaging a contractor for that phase. Once that contractor is on board, that is when you will [begin to] see… visible work going on,” he said.
Professor McDonald emphasized that the committee has been tasked with ensuring that “the people who are doing the project conform and align themselves with the Government procurement guidelines”.
“Let me assure you that they are doing that. They are not breaching the guidelines. They are being very careful about that,” he added.
Professor McDonald explained that the main challenge facing the project is ensuring that the building is dry in order to address air quality issues caused by mold.
He also informed that the budget has increased to approximately $4-billion, up from the $3.5 billion previously earmarked.
Professor McDonald said the project cost is likely to range between $3.8 to $4 billion dollars, while noting resonating arguments about the rationale of refurbishing the facility rather than building a new hospital.
“First of all, the building is structurally sound and the reason it is the way it now is, is because of poor maintenance. The cost of a new hospital that size is somewhere in excess of $30 billion, which I think is beyond the people of Jamaica,” he emphasized.
Professor McDonald said while challenges persist at the facility, the team is pleased with the level of service being offered.
In this regard, he lauded the staff for “going beyond the normal requirements” to ensure that operations continue.
“I would like to commend the staff of the Cornwall Regional Hospital and the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA) for their hard work. Based on statistics, in every single area of service offered at the hospital, it is at approximately 90 percent of where it was before the closure of the main tower,” Professor McDonald pointed out.
He maintained that when the project is completed, “Cornwall Regional Hospital will be better than what is as before the problems started”.
The Cornwall Regional Hospital Independent Oversight Committee was appointed by Health and Wellness Minister, Dr. the Hon. Tufton, to oversee the ongoing restoration of the 10-storey facility.
In the aftermath of the initial reports, several studies were done to determine the cause of the fumes. In February 2017, a team from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) came at the invitation of the Government, to help in identifying the cause of the noxious fumes. PAHO determined that fibreglass particles in the hospital’s ventilation system was the cause of the problem.This resulted in many of the hospital’s services being moved to other locations.
McDonald acknowled the missed deadlines for completion of the CRH’s restoration work, but noted that the work has been prolonged by various new issues discovered during the project.
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