The Modern Medical Complex at Georgetown, which has been under construction for a decade, will open in January 2018, Minister of Health, Sen. Luke Browne told Parliament on Thursday.
The latest date confirms that the complex will miss the 2017 target Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves quoted to constituents in February, when he celebrated 23 years as Parliamentary Representative for North Central Windward.
At Tuesday’s meeting of Parliament, Opposition Leader, Godwin Friday, said that the complex has been under construction for over a decade “with much fanfare and the promise of better health care services for our people.
“However, it has not yet commenced operation,” Friday said, and asked Browne about the status of the project, including the reason for the long delay in opening it; how much it has cost to this point; when it will be completed; and what services it will provide to the people.
The health minister said that he visited the site on the weekend to get a first hand sense of things.
He, however, told Parliament that he couldn’t speak to the history of the project, having assumed the portfolio of Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment less than two years ago.
“But I can tell this honourable house about its current status and future trajectory,” Browne said, adding that his answer is based on the project manager’s status report for September 2017, according to which the project is 90 per cent complete, with the building itself being 95 per cent complete.
Browne said that while the project was first conceived to be a diagnostic centre, it has taken on additional dimensions and will also delve into the area of treatment.
“There is a view that the neighbouring clinic and smart hospital also form part of the Modern Medical complex,” he said.
He detailed to Parliament the outstanding work.
Browne said that expenditure to date on the project is EC$21,853,000, of which EC$20 million was disbursed before 2017 and the remainder was spent this year.
“A small provision will be made in the 2018 estimates, likely, for remaining odds and ends.”
The estimated final cost is just over EC$22 million.
Browne said the government hopes to open the complex by January 2018.
“To the people, the modern medical complex will be merged with the existing healthcare facilities on the same compound, as mentioned before, the Georgetown Clinic and the Smart Hospital, to provide a range of healthcare services,” he told Parliament.
He said the new facility will comprise surgical, dialysis, and outpatient units.
It will provide services under the following heading: dialysis for adults and children, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology, ultrasound, laboratory, diabetic foot ulcer care, endoscopy, intensive care and general medical and surgical consultations.
The services will be implemented on a phased basis.
The centre was initially pitched as gift from Cuba.
“We thank the government of Cuba, the NIS and all other stakeholders for collaborating or partnering with us on this project.”
In a supplementary question, Friday asked Browne if the January 2018 means that the equipment needed to run the facility is already procured.
“The equipment to operate the facility is by and large already procured and on the ground,” he health minister said.