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First phase of $75m PMH redevelopment project underway

The first phase of the $75 million Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) redevelopment project got underway yesterday, with work beginning on the Critical Care Block – a unit that is expected to improve the speed and quality of service at the country’s premier health facility.

“We fully expect that the completion of this project will translate not only into improved health services, but also into more timely delivery of services,” Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said at the groundbreaking ceremony yesterday at PMH.

In addition to the development of the Critical Care Block, a new entryway to the hospital and critical utility upgrades are also a part of the project.

Ingraham said the new entryway, unlike the present 50-year-old structure, will meet all building codes inclusive of those recommended by the American Disability Association.

Additionally, the block will provide for the consolidation of laboratory facilities, an increased number of operating theaters, improved storage and the increased availability of beds in the Intensive Care Unit and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, as well as improved family facilities and upgraded facilities for physicians and clinical staff, Ingraham said.

The project will also provide employment opportunities for hundreds of Bahamians.  As reported previously, during the construction phase up to 400 people will be employed.

Additional persons will also be employed in the new block once it is completed, Ingraham said.

“In preparation for the completion of the Critical Care Block, 130 or more Bahamians, exclusive of physicians and nurses, are being engaged to be trained to become surgical and orthopedic, radiology, pharmacy, rehabilitation, intensive care, laboratory, biomedical, EKG and ECHO technicians. Additionally, medical records, patient care aides, maintenance technicians and other service officers are required,” Ingraham said.

“These trainee technicians are products of the National Jobs and Retraining Program.  The PHA (Public Hospitals Authority) has already interviewed and selected candidates in required areas for this facility and other expanded healthcare facilities here in New Providence and in Grand Bahama.  The first 160 individuals will begin their training on the 28th of this month.  Upon successful completion of their training, trainees are expected to be engaged on the permanent staff of the PHA.”

Minister of Health Dr. Hubert Minnis, who also spoke at the ceremony, noted that the increase in the mortality rate due to violence, HIV/AIDS and chronic, non-communicable diseases, has placed a huge strain on the public healthcare system.

He said the management of PMH is continually challenged with the numbers of patients coming into the hospital.

Minnis said the construction of the critical care unit will reduce much of the strain on the hospital.

PHA borrowed $55 million from the Royal Bank of Canada to pay for the construction of the block.  The government will fund the outstanding $20 million, Ingraham said.

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 ICU rooms and 48 neonatal intensive care unit beds.

“When completed we expect the PMH will be redeveloped into a 500-bed facility on grounds extending from Elizabeth Avenue to Collins Avenue,” said Ingraham.

Pointing to the need for additional infrastructure, Ingraham said PMH has treated well over 2 million patients in its emergency care facilities, logged over 250,000 surgical procedures and has registered over 200,000 live births in its maternity unit.

The project is expected to be complete in 24 months.  In the meantime, Ingraham asked the general public to be patient as improvements are made to the healthcare facility.

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