St Jude completion date still uncertain?

Part of the St Jude hospital was destroyed by fire in 2009.

The memory of September 9, 2009 will stay with some families forever, as their losses unlike that of the state were not at all material. Though the country lost a vital health institution, some lost family members in the St Jude hospital fire, people who had been admitted to very same hospital in the hopes that they would recover and return home in the best of health.
“We lost our friends and relatives two years ago in the St Jude’s fire,” Opposition MP Moses Jn Baptiste expressed. “May God comfort the hearts of those who mourn. We continue our pleas to the government of St Lucia to provide adequate financial support to the families of those who were lost. May their souls rest in peace.”
Fire victims included 17-year-old Jay St Aimee, 87-year-old Joseph Jn Baptiste and 60-year-old Claudius Soudine. As the island marked yet another anniversary of the tragic St Jude fire, the hospital is still relatively non-existent. All hospital functions have been carried out at the George Odlum Stadium since the fire. The temporary facility promised by government as a precursor to the ‘real thing’ is still incomplete.
This year the anniversary of the St Jude fire was marked by a special service at the Eastern wing of the George Odlum Stadium on Friday afternoon. The St Lucia Labour Party’s much talked about public meeting to mark the anniversary of the St Jude’s fire was postponed to Sunday, September 11, at 5pm, according officials, due to an approaching tropical storm.
Last year on the first anniversary of the St Jude fire, a symbolic demolition marked the commencement of reconstruction efforts. At that time, the island’s prime minister Stephenson King promised that the surgical building and other parts of the hospital would be rebuilt and renovated within a 10 month period. That 10 month predicted completion time should have been in July 2011 but St Jude hospital functions are still being conducted at the stadium.
In March this year the media was given a tour of the reconstruction site where project manager Shanta King said construction would likely be completed in the final quarter of 2011. She did not give a specific date. Even more confusing to some at that point was the revelation that once reconstructed in its original Augier location the facility would only serve as a temporary home for the hospital. The permanent location for the hospital was said to be on a 21-acre site “located within close proximity to the George Odlum National Stadium.”
There was much debate about the issue, and opposition representative Alva Baptiste expressed there was no need to explore alternatives in terms of a new location for the hospital as he felt there was “sufficient space for a hospital that can cater for our needs for the next 100 to 200 years.”
Work has been ongoing on the St Jude site since September 2009 according to officials. Yet opposition leader and parliamentary representative of Vieux Fort South Kenny Anthony argued on a RCI news broadcast that works had only been completed on a section of the hospital not destroyed by the fire.
“To this day the government of St Lucia has not accounted for the donations it received from several institutions and several persons,” Anthony said. “The people of St Lucia do not even know how much money was collected and how that money was expended. The people of the south are fed up of the situation. They’ve had enough of the situation and they have displayed enough patience with the government of St Lucia. This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue.”
What was more bothersome, according to Anthony was the “absolute contempt of the government for the three representatives of the adjoining consistency where the hospital was located. To this day they have never called us as parliamentarians and said to us, this is how we’re going to handle the situation, this is how we’re going to approach it. And of course, those who died in that tragic fire have been totally forgotten.”
In March the Project Management Unit within the Ministry of Finance announced that they’d collected roughly EC$3.8 million in the St Jude Rehabilitation Fund from contributions from individuals, organizations and “friendly governments.”
It was revealed at that point that Hess Oil has also contributed one million dollars worth of medical equipment. Additionally, equipment was also donated by the US government.
Project manager Shanta King said at a press conference earlier this year that the cost of the project would be in excess of the EC$3.8 million, therefore the money collected represented a small percentage of what government was mobilizing, and had mobilized to finance renovation works.
A press statement from government on September 9, 2011 seeked to assure St Lucians of its “commitment to complete reconstruction work of the medical facility in keeping with modern medical standards and its own vision to develop St Jude as a world class health care and teaching facility with International accreditation standards.”
“While we work towards attainment of that vision, we are comforted by the fact that the operations of the St Jude Hospital are being managed in a very competent and efficient manner by the capable staff of the institution,” the statement read. “The Government of Saint Lucia continues to treat completion of the St Jude Hospital as a priority. At the same time Government is committed to delivering a new hospital that satisfies modern health sector standards, is consistent with the Government’s vision and is able to respond effectively to the growing demands for health services from the population.”
As mentioned in March 2011 by project manager Shanta King, the last quarter of 2011 should have been a transition period for St Jude.                 In her words: “I think there will be a transition point, the last quarter of the year might be the transitional period for St Jude. It’s a functioning hospital. The physical works will be complete so St Jude would have to put plans in place to relocate operations at the stadium to this facility. I think we need to give them at least a month or two realistically to be able to transition. What might happen, certain services may be available here and still at the stadium other services may be available.”
Government’s latest release made no mention of the completion date for the hospital.

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