Government has received the last disbursement of funds from the Taiwanese Government, to assist with the completion of the St. Jude Hospital reconstruction project.
A total of EC$2.761,847.03 was presented to Prime Minister Dr Kenny D. Anthony, by Taiwanese Ambassador to Saint Lucia James Chang during a handing over ceremony today, April, 25, at the Office of the Prime Minister.
The prime minister expressed gratitude to the Taiwanese Government for the support it has given to the project. Dr Anthony told media operatives that the total expenditure for the project thus far, which is now in its fifth year, stands at approximately EC$60 million.
He said that the last tranche of funds will assist with the completion and could possible fast track construction, for an opening in the near future.
“Finally there is light at the end of the tunnel … I have good reasons to be optimistic about the conclusion of the finality of the project,” the prime minister added.
According to him, the pace of construction at the hospital has increased, which he witnessed for himself following a visit a few weeks ago. “I want to thank you (Ambassador Chang) on behalf of the government and people of China (Taiwan),” he said.
Dr. Anthony admitted that the reconstruction may have taken a long time, but he used the opportunity to thank the people in the south for their patience and understanding.
“They have endured five years of pain, of displacement, disappointment and anxiety… they have gone about their business quietly without excessive complaints,” he added. He also praised the doctors and nurses for doing a “tremendous job.”
The prime minister said he looks forward to an early completion of the project.
Besides this, Dr Anthony posited that the project extends beyond reconstruction, but in fact it is to create a new hospital. He said the model used by the Americans, who did the initial construction was poor and the new model is being built to last a longer period of time.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Chang said the Taiwanese government has committed funds to reconstruct the surgical building and procurement of radiological equipment.
In addition to that, he noted that the original design will be improved, with changes in the air conditioning and electrical systems. Changes were also made to the various medical wards, the nurses quarter, the medical gas system and a fire protection system for the hospital’s roof has also been incorporated in the new design.
“In completing it is firm belief that with this funding it will help to elevate the quality of medical services to the people of Saint Lucia and further strengthen the relationship between the two countries,” Chang said.
St. Jude Hospital was gutted by fire in September 2009. Three patients died as a result of the fire. Patients in that part of the island have since been accommodated at the George Odlum Stadium.