The government’s plans for the Rand Memorial Hospital (RMH) in Freeport are unclear, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday, as he noted that most of the hospital was contaminated by sewage.
Sands said that a determination must be made on the most feasible way to rebuild the hospital.
“Most of the Rand is out of commission,” he said outside Cabinet.
“There would have been what we call blackwater intrusion, and blackwater intrusion is water mixed with stool or sewage. That would have been throughout most of the Rand except the area including the emergency room, the dire ward and imaging, or X-ray, and the lab.
“So, roughly 75 percent of the square footage of the Rand has been taken out of commission, because when we went back in, there is now mold overgrowth. We have made a decision that we have to have a solution for healthcare in Grand Bahama by the time as Samaritan’s Purse leaves. And so, what we’re going to do is we’re going to tear out whatever is contaminated and we’re going to see what’s left and then the reconstruction of the Rand on that site will depend on whether or not it is feasible to rebuild, or whether we have to now use modular structures to recreate the wards.
“That said, it is the hope that we have the wherewithal to, at some point, build a brand new climate-resilient Rand Memorial Hospital. That clearly can’t happen in six months.”
RMH suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Dorian.
Samaritan’s Purse, an international humanitarian aid organization, has been handling a large portion of the island’s hospital services from a field hospital it set up in the immediate aftermath of the storm, which wiped out parts of Grand Bahama and Abaco.
Sands said the government plans to ask Samaritan’s Purse to extend its time on the island.
“Their initial [arrangement] has a 90-day duration from September,” he said.
“We are going to ask them to extend, but that facility will be left in place even after they leave, and so some of the services provided at Samaritan’s Purse by their staff will continue with the Rand Memorial staff.”