Health Minister, Kenneth Darroux, has given a “possible” date for the groundbreaking of the much-talked about National Hospital.
Speaking on Kairi’s Heng Programme announced earlier this week he said the groundbreaking will occur in July or August.
“In fact, the Chinese would have written to us looking at a possible groundbreaking date. They said anywhere between late July to early August they will have the groundbreaking,” he said.
The new hospital is being funded by the government of the People’s Republic of China and will be constructed on the site of the present Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH).
Darroux said about six weeks ago the government finally accepted a proposal by the Chinese for the construction of temporary wards at the hospital site “then we would have the issue of where they are going to be constructed.”
He pointed to the challenges being faced in constructing the facility.
“I want to really be upfront with the public, and it’s something I have been saying ever since I have taken over the mantle of the Ministry of Health, that we have been engaging with the Chinese because the construction of a hospital, of a new building on a site that is currently being used to deliver health service by itself poses many challenges, numerous challenges,” he stated. “We are talking about serious hazards and noise and dust pollution and we wanted to ensure that when construction starts that it’s going to be done with a minimal.”
Additionally, he noted, there will be disruption of services and some inconveniences.
“We cannot get away from that, but we want to ensure that it is done with the minimal disruption of service,” Darroux stated.
He explained that the government is trying to mitigate and minimize some of these challenges.
“So this is why we have had this delay in terms of the actual construction,” he stated.
And according to him, since the construction is going to be on an active hospital site, it has to be done in phases, “and the phases have to be thought of very carefully and the issue of probably temporary buildings while one is being demolished…”
“Our Chinese counterparts would have submitted a proposal that would have been endorsed by the Ministry of Health, because going forward as the Minister of Health I really didn’t want to sign off on anything that was not in agreement with the health providers at the PMH,” Darroux said.
Talks of constructing a new hospital in Dominica goes back to 2010,
That year then Health Minister, Julius Timothy, announced that the groundbreaking ceremony for the hospital in the Roseau North constituency was “coming soon.”
That same year Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, said Warner should be considered as a possible location for the hospital.
Two years later, in 2012 Timothy said the existing Princess Margaret Hospital would soon be revamped and the country will have a “relatively new hospital early next year” (2013).
In 2013, Prime Minister Skerrit said the new hospital was among projects to be undertaken that year through gratuitous aid and concessionary financing from the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
At that time, Skerrit mentioned that they were “unfolding the designs” of the hospital.
In January 2015, Health Minister Kenneth Darroux said new information, new points of view and ideas about the hospital had surfaced and a site for the facility was yet to be determined.
He said a decision on the new site would be determined very soon and “within the next few weeks” the nation would be informed.
It was subsequently revealed that the facility will be constructed in Goodwill, at the site of the PMH.
In May 2015, Skerrit said groundbreaking would be held in July 2015.
In November 2015, Skerrit said everything is now settled between Dominica and China and the groundbreaking will now be held in the first quarter of 2016.
Recently Darroux said the construction of the hospital had “essentially started.”