(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – The health safety and security crisis now unfolding at St. Jude Hospital (SJH) is a horror story resulting from human contact with fibreglass fibres (or particles) getting loose from the sheets covering the roof of the George Odlum Stadium (GOS).
This situation should have never happened under an alert Ministry of Health guided by a competent Minister.
More so, it once again reflects the insensitivity, disdain, disrespect and contempt that the present administration shows towards medical and construction engineering professionals, concerned citizens groups and the wider public of St. Lucia with regards to the SJH Reconstruction Project.
The Allen Chastanet Administration has had two years to complete the re-construction of SJH and relocate the hospital to its original location. This was the plan conceptualized and pursued by two previous administrations (one UWP and the other SLP). The arguments for the execution and completion of that plan were compelling.
SJH was being reconstructed into a modern facility that would continue to provide affordable, accessible and quality health-care to residents in Vieux-Fort and the south and citizens of St. Lucia in general.
There were too many issues with the GOS: it was not built to serve as a hospital, the roof was in a serious state of imminent collapse, staff morale was low and running thin because of the many physical, environmental and operational constraints they had endured for so long.
The Allen Chastanet Administration had the opportunity to remove the staff and patients of SJH from the unsuitable and unsafe GOS – this dungeon of shame as described by Dr. Ulric Mondesir former Chairman of the SJH Board of Management- and demonstrate to St. Lucia and the rest of the world that it is a government that listens and is sensitive to the concerns of the citizens of the land.
But with its typical stubbornness, dismissive and bull-headed attitude it has gone ahead, against all the prevailing and unsolicited good advice, with the repairs to the GOS putting doctors, nurses, patients and visitors at serious health risks caused by exposure to fibreglass particles or fibres. Some of those affected have reached close to the doors of death, others are in pain and agony and many more are in a state of constant fear and apprehension. Apart from health effects on the skin, eyes, nostrils, throat and stomach, some fibres in fiberglass are possible human carcinogens.
Why did this have to happen? Evidently, there was not enough attention given to this scope of work. What was the plan for dismantling the roof knowing that the sheets contained (or were made of) fibreglass? Was there a briefing exercise that discussed with hospital staff, construction workers, SJH Management Board, Ministry of Health & Wellness, etc. how the works will be conducted and how the major occupational safety and health issues related to the removal of the fibreglass sheets would be avoided, minimized or handled?
Was the project approved by the Physical Development Department and did it come under the scrutiny (and/or supervision) of the Labour Department? Was there any advisory issued to visitors to the hospital and the general public? Is the repair of the GOS being undertaken to facilitate a secret deal with foreign interests regarding the repurposing of the SJH?
The situation at SJH is a crying shame. VF4Cs calls upon the Allen Chastanet Administration to halt work at the GOS immediately, investigate and ensure all persons affected by the fiberglass fibres are given proper medical attention and devise a plan to complete (at least) the East Wing of the reconstructed SJH and relocate all patients there in the quickest possible time.
The world is watching and waiting.