Ensuring that services at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) are not interrupted as construction of the new Critical Care Block continues is proving to be a difficult task for the contractors, Cavalier Construction's Chief Executive Officer, Richard Wilson, said yesterday.
"It's been a tremendous challenge all the way through," Wilson told reporters during a tour of the site.
"There will be challenges all the way through to the end. But the biggest challenge that we've had is with all the services in the ground that keep the existing hospital running and we've come across some challenges there, but so far, so good.
"We've done well. Everything is going well now and we hope it continues to do that."
Construction on the unit is about 20 percent complete and on budget, according to officials. About $12 million has been spent on the project to date, Wilson said.
Following the tour, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham expressed pleasure with the work done so far.
"We have been over the years dreaming abut having a facility like this,"he said. "We are happy now that it's able to come to fruition."
The Critical Care Block is the first part of the $100 million PMH redevelopment project.
The unit will alleviate much of the problems that are currently experienced in the existing facility, according to officials.
The government secured a $55 million loan from the Royal Bank of Canada to help finance the project. Ingraham said the government will provide the additional funding to complete it.
"Health is going to consume a substantial portion of public expenditure over the next five years," he said.
"First of all this critical care block, and secondly, a new child and maternal care unit and a new emergency department, so we're talking about several hundred million dollars over the next five years for the health sector."
In the meantime, Ingraham said the government is hoping to strike a better balance in The Bahamas between public health and preventative healthcare.
"We have been too focused on the institution and not as focused on the things that cause you to come here, like obesity, like having a balanced meal, like exercising, like having clean drinking water, like washing your hands, like collecting garbage, a whole list of things," he said.
"So while we are doing this we will also be focused upon the preventative side of health."
As it relates to the expansion of the hospital, Public Hospitals Authority Managing Director Herbert Brown said the new unit will significantly improve operations at the hospital.
"Obviously the fact is that we have many surgeries that we are unable to accommodate in a timely manner," he said.
"And the fact that we are going to have six operating theatres is very significant. The fact that we are going to double the ICU capacity from 11 to 20 is significant. The fact that we are going to significantly enhance the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is significant.
"So we are very, very pleased and I am sure the Bahamian people will be pleased when this project is completed."
The 75,000-square-foot unit will be a multi-story expansion to the current Accident and Emergency Department of PMH. It will include six operating theaters, 18 recovery beds, 20 Intensive Care Unit rooms, and 48 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit beds, among other things.
The first phase of the redevelopment represents the single largest investment in healthcare infrastructure at PMH since it was built almost six decades ago, officials have pointed out.
When completed it is expect that PMH will be redeveloped into a 500-bed facility on grounds extending from Elizabeth Avenue to Collins Avenue.
The project is expected to be complete by mid-2013.
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