Grand Bahama News

Doctors Hospital forges ahead with GB plans

Rockwell donation kicks off a $24 million fundraising campaign for private hospitals in GB

With a $3.2 million donation from Kent Rockwell, a resident of Grand Bahama, Doctors Hospital of Nassau has launched a campaign to raise additional funding to build a state-of-the-art private hospital for Grand Bahama and a clinic in Eight Mile Rock. 

Under the direction of President Dr. Charles Diggiss, Doctors’ team has launched the EAGLE initiative (Exuma, Abaco, Grand Bahama, Long Island and Eleuthera) to bring healthcare to all islands with critical mass. 

This will start in Grand Bahama, with the first of its two facilities projected to open at the end of May in Eight Mile Rock.

“Eight Mile Rock will be a 2,500-square-foot, state-of-the-art primary care clinic, with three exam rooms, a procedure room and a fully functioning dialysis center with six dialysis bays,” said Dennis D. Deveaux, CFO for Doctors Hospital Health System.

“It represents our commitment to primary care and wellness in the largest settlement anywhere in The Bahamas.”

The new facility has taken over retired Dr. Malik Kavala’s well-known practice in the community.

”Dr. Kavala had a small, private practice here. We are going to be able to merge his private patients and add to it more local citizens’ care via the NHI (National Health Initiative),” said Dr. Dawn Galagher, who will head the new clinic as lead practitioner.

“We are going to name the clinic the Kavala Medical Center in his honor, as he was a stalwart of this community, and we want to continue his work here and hope to offer more services with the dialysis beds, too.”

Doctor’s Hospital Kavala Medical Centre in Eight Mile Rock, West Grand Bahama on Thursday May 26, 2022. (Photo by Matthew Aylen)

Gallagher, who previously ran the government EMR clinic, is a tenured physician from Grand Bahama.

She studied medicine at Florida International University, did her undergraduate studies in Trinidad and practiced in New Providence before returning home.

“I am excited for what Doctors will bring to the island, not only the advanced care but for the additional services that will be offered here, and not the same as in Nassau,” Gallagher said.

“At our clinic, we will also be able to service the GB Shipyard, Container Port and West End hotels – offering a quicker stopgap than a drive into Freeport.”

The total project investment for the two locations is estimated at $20 million with a $4 million contingency.

Deveaux noted that the response to Doctors Hospital coming to Grand Bahama has been good, and the spirit of cooperation has been incredible. 

“Rupert Hayward has been an excellent partner and friend for us, pushing us to make this happen,” he said.

Speaking at one of the first fundraisers for the hospital, Hayward, Grand Bahama Port Authority executive director, said, “A world-class medical facility is a precursor to large-scale foreign direct investment.

“All businesses need to know that their employees and clients can be looked after in the event of an emergency and have access to exceptional emergency and inpatient care.

“The new Doctors Hospital facility will provide this and more. This facility will also be a critical piece of infrastructure for residents of Grand Bahama. Keeping our families safe and healthy is of utmost importance to us all.”

The Freeport hospital will take over the entire First Commercial Centre, which formerly housed FirstCaribbean International Bank, Okanyos Stem Cell center and several corporate offices.

Deveaux said they plan to use two local contractors in their initial build-out, with the first and third-floor construction happening simultaneously.

Staffing wise, he envisions over 90 personnel, which includes doctors, nurses, administrative, security and custodial employees to oversee the 30-patient bed facility. 

The hospital will handle emergency care and ambulatory services, with 10 critical ER bays, including two operating suites and full interventional catheterization labs, and diagnostic imaging. There will also be labor and delivery care, as well as an ICU, and a proper medical team that will ensure ‘ease of preparation’ for patients in the case of a medical evacuation. 

“We are a Bahamian company,” Deveaux said. “It is part of our duty to expand the delivery of care in The Bahamas, where there is a critical mass. This is our president’s vision. Grand Bahama is our signature investment.”

Helping advise the Doctors GB team is long-standing resident Pietro Stefanutti, president of PharmaChem Industries, along with the company’s CEO, Randy Thompson, who Deveaux noted have been signature corporate partners in helping them find their way.

Stefanutti is part of a team of local citizens leading the charge for the Doctors Hospital initiative, along with Rory Payton-Ash and families, who are working to raise the funds to make the private hospital a reality.

“This kind of reception makes you want to do more and be a part of this community,” said Deveaux, who is  married to Grand Bahamian pediatrician Dr. Teykia Deveaux. “This is an amazing town. It’s easy to get around here, and so peaceful. We are confident we will lure in the best of the best to work here.”

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