With construction of the New National Hospital (NNH) nearing completion, the Ministry of Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relations has embarked on the all-important process of employing the technical staff required for the maintenance of the facility under the Plant and Facilities Department.
This is in keeping with the Financing Agreement between the European Commission and Saint Lucia for the New National Hospital Project which requires that the Government of Saint Lucia ensure that the personnel necessary for the proper maintenance of the NNH are hired and trained in time for the commissioning of the facility.
Over the last few weeks, the Technical Team has been involved in a variety of training and knowledge-sharing exercises, all aimed at ensuring their familiarity with the layout and functionality of the facility prior to Commissioning. Some of these preparatory activities include training in Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, Elevator Operation, Waste Water, Alarm, Fire alarm system, Access control system, CCTV, Medical Gas system, UPS and Building Management system.
Now, the team, in collaboration with the Hospital’s General Contractors, is engaged in the significant task of developing the necessary maintenance manuals.
Wendell Bernard, Project Engineer for the New National Hospital highlighted that this is a very important step in ensuring knowledge transfer. He added that the attainment of the various safety, fire and electrical certificates, the testing of all equipment and the snagging of the entire compound are elements of construction necessitating the technical team’s input.
Snagging, according to the Project Engineer, is the process of investigating all outstanding matters after major construction, with a view towards ensuring they are resolved before commissioning of the hospital. “As you can imagine, this is a very technical and laborious duty that requires an heightened level of focus. Thankfully, the depth of experience and knowledge of this team is vital and has secured our ability to expertly monitor and execute our responsibilities during this phase” said Bernard.
The team also came in for praise earlier this week, when they met with Health Minister, the Honourable Alvina Reynolds, who acknowledged their dedication to the project and implored them to set the benchmark for hospital maintenance in the Caribbean.
The Minister also acknowledged that the specialised fields of the team members serve to point the youth towards non-traditional professions. At over 20,000 square feet and boasting the latest technologies and building management systems, the New National Hospital‘s upkeep is a high priority to the Government of Saint Lucia.
“We will spare no effort at ensuring this Caribbean Landmark, a significant gift to the Government and people of Saint Lucia by the European Union – is maintained in a manner congruent with international hospital engineering standards,” remarked Cointha Thomas,Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health.
The Plant and Facilities and Bio-Medical departments will also ensure timely repairs and upkeep of the facilities, providing for the safe and reliable operation of medical equipment.
The Permanent Secretary continued, “When we reflect on the arduous process for selection and engagement of these technical practitioners we are confident that we have assembled the most capable cadre of Saint Lucian experts to handle and manage this important aspect of the New Hospital.”
“We note too, that on the heels of the Cabinet Conclusion, agreeing to the Statutorisation of the National Healthcare Complex, that the Facilities Management team will be responsible for the maintenance of the entire complex, encompassing the New National Hospital, National Mental Wellness Centre and Turning Point Rehabilitation Centre, which will all operate on the same compound,” said Ms Thomas.
This team of professionals include the newly appointed: Plant and Facilities Manager, Epiphane Flavius; Gilian Joseph, Hospital Engineer; Jonathon Emmanuel, Waste Water and Sewage Plant Operator; and Jessie Theobalds, Biomedical Technician. The current maintenance personnel at Victoria Hospital and National Mental Wellness Centre include: Lucus Poleon, Senior Biomed Technician; Dewey Phillip, Maintenance Technician; Lucius Gaston, Electrician; Caillin Henry, Maintenance Technician and Jeremiah Bray, A/C Technician.
Together they will make up the Plant and Facilities department for the Complex. Along with other Landscaping, Plumbing, Carpentry and Mechanical Engineering personnel, the Plant Operations team’s main thrust is to provide and sustain the physical environment for the Healthcare Complex to achieve its goal of excellence in the delivery of quality healthcare and public service.