Carnival Corporation and PLC signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Health yesterday to fund the flood damage repairs and basic restoration efforts at the Rand Memorial Hospital in Freeport.
Carnival Senior Vice President Mike Kaczmarek said the company will provide an initial injection of “a few of thousand dollars” to get the process started, but there are no exact numbers yet on what the total project will cost.
“The actual cost is uncertain, but it’s substantial,” he said during a press conference at the Ministry of Health.
“And we are pressed for time because of the potential for mold, so we’re trying to combine a somewhat tight budget with a limited time and be able to do as much as we can within that.”
The Rand was severely damaged during Hurricane Dorian, with only some parts of it still functional in the aftermath.
Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said one of the biggest issues was flooding with sewage-contaminated water.
“There was a significant problem with blackwater flooding, so much so that we have had to take out of commission about 75 percent of the square footage of the Rand Memorial Hospital,” he said.
He added, “Over the last half a century, a company that is an integral part of our tourism product has found The Bahamas to be their home. And recognizing the challenge with the Rand Memorial Hospital and health services in Grand Bahama in general, they have decided to partner with the Ministry of Health and the Public Hospitals Authority to help us to remediate the challenges at the Rand.
“And so, together with at least one other organization, Direct Relief, Carnival Corporation has committed to remediate the damage to the Rand Memorial Hospital, to get it back up and running, and also to re-equip the hospital.”
A field hospital set up and run by charity organization Samaritan’s Purse has been providing the majority of needed hospital services on the island since the storm. The field hospital is expected to be in operation until March 2020.
Sands said it is hoped that the Rand will be operational by then.
He has said that it will likely take at least two years to reconstruct the Rand and that it will cost roughly $20 million to repair the hospital.
Kaczmarek said the company plans to use Bahamian labor, but will have to bring in some foreign specialists from Puerto Rico where similar work is being undertaken.
However, the majority of labor, he said, will come from volunteers from the Grand Bahama Shipyard.