Not nearly as tragic as the notorious fire at St Jude Hospital in 2009, the Soufriere Hospital experienced its own flames on the morning of November 9, 2017. At around 3:14 a.m. a fire was reported to the Soufriere Fire Station and, according to Fire Officer Jn Baptiste, “The fire was extinguished and under control within about ten minutes.”
Accounts say that it was contained and confined within the medical records (filing) room of the hospital. No injuries or casualties were reported. However, filed records of patients’ information were subject to flame and water damage. Although the fire did not cause damage to other regions of the hospital, smoke spread to other rooms posing the need for patients to be evacuated to Etangs Health Centre.
The cause of the fire was not yet determined by 10 a.m. Thursday morning and the Soufriere Hospital was yielded to the authority of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force for investigation. The Ministry of Health will assume the necessary assessments as soon as the police force gives an all clear.
The Ministry of Health has assured the public that there will be close partnership with other agencies, including St Jude and Victoria Hospitals, for patients needing urgent care support, and the Minibus Association to provide transportation services while the Soufriere Hospital is out of commission.
The Saint Lucia Labour Party also addressed the incident publicly on Thursday in a statement which read in part: “The Opposition hopes that mechanisms will be put in place by the Health ministry to return services to the Soufriere hospital as soon as possible so as to minimize the inconvenience to the patients, clients and staff of the facility.”
However, Senior Medical Officer Dr. Sharon Belmar-George noted on Thursday, “The Ministry of Health is asking residents of Soufriere to be patient while we work to restore services in a timely manner.”