Following numerous announced opening dates and being years behind the originally announced completion time the Nurse Iris O’Neal Clinic was finally opened on 20 February.
The well attended ceremony was rightly celebrated by residents from all over the Territory. In his remarks Premier and Minister for Finance Hon. Andrew Fahie commented that the opening was promise delivered: “It is another promise made, another promise kept, it’s another promise delivered, but we had help doing it,” the BVI Leader stated.
The Premier announced that Virgin Gorda residents will be able to commence service at the facility from next week and stressed that the facility was greatly needed in the District. “I am proud now that we reach a point that no matter the political affiliations, they came together in oneness in purpose to give the people of Virgin Gorda what they deserve,” Premier Fahie said.
In noting the significance of the opening the Premier said, “Today is a day when we all should be proud. Today is a day when we can say I am proud to be a Virgin Islander; I am proud to be a Virgin Gordian, I am proud now to know that I don’t have to rush to Tortola now on any boat when I take sick.”
Meanwhile Minister for Natural Resources, Labour, Immigration, Ninth District Representative, Hon Vincent Wheatley declared that the opening of the clinic has been promised for years and he was pleased to see the promise finally fulfilled. “Today marks another milestone in the transformation of district 9. Today was a day that many thought would never happen, this land where we sit on has been cleared off many, many times usually around election times…We have had many town meetings held about this very facility here, but then finally it started. Today we are here to witness the culmination of many persons,” Hon. Wheatley said.
In addition to the services that the new facility will be offering Hon Wheatley noted that he would like to see employment being offered to Virgin Islanders and therefore he called on interested persons to consider such opportunities at the facility: ”I want to encourage our young persons here to consider careers in the medical field. This beautiful building here was built for you. We want to see technicians, dieticians, nurses, doctors and we can go on and on. Please consider a career in the medical field,” Hon. Wheatley stated.
Nonetheless, the Ninth District Representative mentioned that the clinic is a truly important feature in the District that stirred great expectations in residents: “There is an expectation of outstanding service, efficient service, friendly service, and above all, reliable service.”
Chief Executive Officer of the BVI Health Services Authority (BVIHSA) Dr. Ronald Georges expressed an eagerness to see the facility fully operational and he called on the staff in Virgin Gorda to ensure that the clinic operates at its optimum peak.
“While we celebrate the opening of this new facility here today, in the coming weeks we will transition services and scale them up over time. It has been a long road, and it is still a long journey to go [but]we expect to ensure that a physician is available initially until 10 pm, but we want staff available in this clinic 24 hours,” the BVIHSA CEO said.
Furthermore, Dr. Georges mentioned that the Health Services Authority is keen on seeing many critical services implemented at the Nurse Iris O’Neal Clinic. “We are making a commitment to ensure that you have pharmacy equipment here, laboratory services and imaging services and that includes Xrays and ultrasounds,”
During the well attended ceremony on 20 February contractor of the clinic James Todman (of James Todman Construction Ltd) took the opportunity to clear the area that the delayed opening of the project did not equate to a cost overrun. Todman declared: “I stress this area, we started, changes were made to the original contract so the project did not run over. Additional things were added so the cost had to move up. So the project was never over-run. So let us get that area clear.”