By Mellica McPherson-Ganda
Athough the construction of the Nurse Iris O’Neal Mini Hospital in Virgin Gorda appears to be in limbo and behind schedule, Minister for Health and Social Development Hon. Ronnie Skelton is optimistic that the project will make the deadline.
In an exclusive interview with The Island Sun newspaper Minister Skelton indicated that the project was not at a standstill, and assured that there was no halt that would affect the timely delivery of the project.
“As far as I understand from the team that I put in charge of the construction phase of the hospital…The foundation civil works I understand — it’s substantially finished, and the contractor is now waiting on the steel structure so that he can erect it and continue with the completion of the building,” the Minister explained.
“We are still hoping that by the end of the year it will be up and running,” Hon. Skelton said in response to questions about the project’s deadline.
“There might be delays, but the contractor has assured me that he will try to meet the deadline,” the Minister for Health stated.
The delays were described as necessary setbacks. In providing an example of the interruption causes Hon. Skelton said: “Some of the delays are a combination of things and approval for getting things done.” Nonetheless, the Minister said that he is not worried about the present status of the project. In fact he expressed confidence in the construction team and their ability to handover the project on time: “I am sure that whatever slippage of time that we have had the contractor will try to make it up and we will also wherever we can assist — try to make up the time, but I am hoping and I am positive that it will be done, we’ll be able to open the doors by year end in December,” the Health Minister said.
Premier Notes Increase in Original Project Budget
Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith during an address to the Territory on 4 May 2015 estimated that the project would be completed within 12 months, and on budget.
In that address Dr. Smith said: “In 12 months-time, God’s willing we will open a new Nurse Iris O’Neal Medical Center at the cost of five million dollars.”
However, during the 8 February Budget Address Hon. Smith presented a different budget figure when he indicated that the facility was starting at a cost of six point five million dollars.
The mini hospital on Virgin Gorda is expected to operate 24/7 and offer emergency care, family care, mental and radiology and many other services