A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed on Thursday, November 7, between the Ministry of Health, the Public Hospitals Authority and the Carnival Corporation for the restoration and rebuilding of this island’s sole hospital, the Rand Memorial Hospital.
The MOU between the three entities was signed in New Providence.
The RMH fell victim to Hurricane Dorian’s wrath some two months ago and, according to Hon. Dr. Duane Sands, Minister of Health, more than 50 percent of the facility was compromised due to severe flooding.
Sands noted prior to the signing of the MOU on Thursday, that the partnership with The Bahamas and Carnival Corporation has been longstanding from a touristic standpoint, and, that their agreement to assist in the rebuilding of this island’s primary health care facility, speaks volumes to the continued commitment to the country.
“In Dorian’s wake was a path and trail of destruction at the Rand Memorial Hospital in Grand Bahama, one of the major health care facilities in The Bahamas. There was significant problems with brackish water flooding, so much so that we have had to take out of commission, about 75 percent of the square footage of the RMH. As you know acute care services, for the most part were provided at the field hospital right across the street.
“Over the last half a century, the company (Carnival Corporation), has been an integral part of our tourism product and has found the Bahamas to be their home. Recognizing the challenge with the RMH and health services in GB in general, they have decided to partner with the Ministry of Health, the Public Hospitals Authority to help us to remediate the challenges at the Rand.
“And so, together with at least one other organization, Direct Relief, Carnival Corporation has committed to remediate the damages to the RMH, to get it back up and running and, also to re-equip the hospital. It is with absolute pleasure and a sense of gratitude, to welcome the representatives from Carnival Corporation here today as we sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the project to bring the RMH back to life,” said the Minister of Health.
Along with other Carnival Corporation executives present with him, Michael Kaczmarek, Vice President, Corporate Shipbuilding, Carnival Corporation, further informed of the company’s commitment to The Bahamas, and, particularly the island of Grand Bahama.
Marie (McKenzie- Vice President, Caribbean Relationship, Carnival Corporation), myself and a few others flew into Grand Bahama Island a couple of days after Dorian, to see our Shipyard, which we have part interest in, and to see how it is doing and to access the situation and to see if there were any areas, that we could help.
“We met with government and the government told us was that they would like for us to do two things. They wanted us to get our business started again, getting cruise ships back to Grand Bahama Island and to enter The Bahamas and that they would also like some help with the hospital.
“We went to take a look at the hospital and we realized it suffered substantial flooding damage and shortly after that we offered the government something to be able to stabilize the situation and do some basic remediation to the hospital.
“As the Minister said, we have a long relationship with The Bahamas and, we feel as partners that it just makes sense for us to help out in these areas.,” he said.
The actual cost of the repairs is uncertain according to Kaczmarek but it is substantial. “Initially, just to get started, we are going to be injecting a few hundred thousand dollars,” he said.
As for the staff compliment to complete the repairs at the RMH the Carnival Corporation executive noted: “We will probably use some Bahamians. We have a few specialists that are coming in from Puerto Rico, that are doing the same kind of work right now, but the majority of the labour will actually be coming from volunteers from Grand Bahama.”
Sands pointed out that the end of the engagement with Samaritan’s Purse for the field hospital is March 2020 and it is hoped that the remediation at the Rand would be completed.