Members of the Virgin Gorda community witnessed the ground breaking ceremony for the vast upgrading of the Nurse Iris O’Neal Medical Center. The event took place on 30 March on the property adjacent to the current facility.
The gathering also witnessed the signing of the contract between Government and the contractor James Todman Construction. It was announced that the facility will feature 18270 sq ft of space and would be funded entirely by the BVI government.
Premier Dr. Hon. D. Orlando Smith told the gathering: “My Government is keeping its promise to you the people of Virgin Gorda to provide you with the best health care possible. By extension we are keeping our promise to build a healthier Virgin Islands…Ladies and gentlemen, today, to a large extent, marks the fulfilment of our vision. I am so pleased that we have reached another phase in this remarkable healthcare journey.”
Contractor Mr. James Todman announced that his company has been able to complete many projects on schedule, on time and within budget. He thanked the previous administration, and current administration for giving opportunities in the construction industry of this Territory and announced that he will do his best in Virgin Gorda as he has done in Tortola.
Mr. Todman, who also donated $28,000 to the project, announced that he would be happy to subcontract work to persons in the District: “We will share the pie…People of Virgin Gorda have no fear, James Todman Construction is over here.”
Ninth District Representative, Hon. Ralph T. O’Neal in his remarks gave a brief presentation on the property on which construction is going to take place. Hon. O’Neal announced that the land was purchased by Mr. Laurence Rockefeller. “I am very glad today to see that actions have been taken. Today we are moving up high, and higher. I think we have a lot to give God thanks for,” the Ninth District Representative added.
Minister for Health, and Social Development, Hon. Ronnie Skelton told the residents of Virgin Gorda: “We have been unrelenting in our efforts to deliver this facility to you. The need for this facility was identified many administrations ago before the NDP.”
Hon. Skelton said that once the Centre has been completed and fully operational it will be functioning on a 24 hours basis. He also said that the Nurse Iris O’Neal Center will provide a wide range of services to the community that will eliminate the need to travel. “We ask you for your patience during the various stages of construction.”
Minister Skelton pointed out that while the facility will be fully equipped to handle most medical situations that may arise, it will still at times be necessary to stabilize and transport serious cases: “Our long term vision is to one day commission a modern air ambulance service and a modern ambulance boat.” In the interim the Minister stated that repairs have been completed on motor vessel Vigilate 2 which will be doing emergency transfer of patients.
It was mentioned that the new construction will feature a modern laboratory, pharmacy, imaging room, procedure and treatment rooms, an accident and emergency room designed to be fitted-out with state-of-the-art equipment, a security counter, a nurses’ station, a reception area with 25 indoor seats, 28 outdoor seats, and public restrooms.
The grounds will be well lit, beautifully landscaped, and will include 25 parking spaces with three spaces for handicapped persons, 25 staff parking spaces and a driveway to overflow parking. The facility will also feature an Ambulance Bay, a Patient Drop Off location, and back-up generator.