The opening of the new Peebles Hospital brings to an end the Puerto Rico syndrome, Premier Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith announced on 17 December during the grand celebration of the opening of the new facility.
Premier Smith echoed the sentiments of other speakers before him, and stated that the new facility eliminates the need for residents to travel overseas for treatment. In fact Dr. Smith explained that the urge to travel overseas in previous years was referred to as the Puerto Rico syndrome, and he stated that the new facility will quell this urge: “No longer should our people, be forced to feel the need to seek care off-island. In the old days we used to call this the “Puerto Rico Syndrome”.
The BVI Leader told the gathering that the opening of the new hospital marked a red letter day, a day that the entire Territory has looked forward to for some time, and he said that he is pleased that Government has delivered on its promise to the people.
“For decades we have been making steady progress in our healthcare delivery system. We boast a comprehensive public health network with clinics throughout the Territory. We saw the expansion of our medical services with the addition of specialist services at Peebles Hospital, provided by many of our own local doctors, so that our community could be offered modern and efficient treatment,” Premier Smith announced. He noted that Government has assiduously worked towards the opening of the Hospital which ensures the Territory’s people access to better health care.
“This is progress made in improving the quality of life for our people. This is progress made in securing our economic future by reducing costs to access quality, specialist healthcare services. Many years ago, we envisioned this modern hospital, with its new services and equipment being introduced together with specialist staff…We nurtured a vision of a healthier future for our Territory, one where every health requirements could be met right here in this facility. Today, to a large extent, marks the fulfillment of that vision. I am very proud, yet humbled to see this great accomplishment, this remarkable milestone that we have reached. You see, I have always felt a personal bond to this facility. Indeed it is where I started my career as a surgeon more than forty years ago and after many years as Chief Medical Officer retired from the Public Service,” Dr. Smith added.
Chair of the BVI Health Services Authority Mr. John Cline told the gathering that BV Islanders no longer need to travel abroad for medical treatment, because that special treatment they need is available here in the Territory at Peebles Hospital.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Development, Mrs. Petrona Davies gave the history of the hospital, and referred to the facility as the best designed and best built hospital in the Eastern Caribbean. She told the gathering: “It is our moment in time to celebrate a very long and complicated journey.” The Permanent Secretary explained that the final transition stage of the hospital extends to the next two weeks.
His Excellency Governor John Duncan announced that the Territory now has a state of the art hospital complex. This facility, he said, is one which all residents and visitors can be proud of. I am sure that the hospital will proudly serve the community, and all those who visit our shores,” Governor Duncan said.
Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Ralph O’Neal said that the opening of the Hospital at this time is a great Christmas present for the Territory: “This is the 17 December and we could say what a lovely Christmas present. I am so glad to see the crowd of people,” Hon. O’Neal stated. “Today is not for criticizing. While it is true that whatever is past is past… As you know, the NDP started the construction and the VIP struggled with it, and then completed it… Let us rejoice and thank all those who contributed to the project because government is a continuum… Let us realize it is being done for the people and not for the people who are in the Executive,” Hon. O’Neal stated.
The Leader of the Opposition said that he is confident that the new hospital will deliver a high level of service. “The government has conquered and the people will benefit and I hope they will,” Hon. O’Neal announced before praising Contractor James Todman for the work that he did on the building. “This building will be watched closely and we want to ensure that it maintains the standards,” he added.
HEALTHCARE DREAM COMES TRUE – GENEROUS DONATIONS TOO
Minister for Health and Social Development, Hon. Ronnie Skelton announced that the construction of the hospital was a key project of his administration. He said: “We stuck to the task and held fast to our commitment…here we are at the end of 2014, the prospect and promise of a state of the art facility is a reality. Of course I am well aware that this project has had its fair share of detractors who said this dream was too lofty. That the money should have been used for more petty contracts, and that it accounts for too much of our national debt; but I put it to you… That when you do not have your health nothing else matters,” Hon. Skelton stated.
The Minister said that the new hospital represents the quality of healthcare that will be delivered here in the British Virgin Islands. He said that the new building will be part of a complex where other support services will be housed. “Our work to improve the Territory’s infrastructure is not finished,” the Minister said.
Hon. Skelton also made an appeal to Virgin Islanders to prepare and position themselves for employment in the health care sector. In fact, the Minister said that 109 new jobs will be created in nursing alone, and more jobs in other areas. The seasoned Minister said that the new Peebles Hospital has been designed and constructed to international accreditation standards. The Minister said that he is aware that accreditation wouldn’t happen overnight, but he said that the Territory has embarked on the journey. He also opined that sometime in the future the facility might be named after Premier Smith.
Before the cutting of the ribbon some donations were made to the hospital by the Rotary Club of Tortola and Scotiabank. There was also a special donation of $100,000 by Dancia Penn and Co. The donation was made from the estate of Cythia Major through her executor John Foster. Ms. Major was a client of Dancia Penn and Co who wanted to do something before she died for the Territory and Dancia Penn and Co advised her to make a donation to the hospital.