The rebuilding of the burnt section of St Joseph Mercy hospital is not expected to start until early next year as the design and a number of preparatory works are still to be finalised.
According to Human Resources Director Georgina Mentore, an architect recently visited the site but she could not say whether a design has been submitted to the hospital’s board for approval. Rebuilding the burnt section remains a priority as the hospital seeks to move beyond the tragedy which struck the institution about two months ago.
While the Guyana Fire Service recently indicated that the fire was electrical in origin, the insurance company handling the hospital’s claim is yet to complete its investigation. Estimated losses from the fire had amounted to $600 million, however it was expected that this figure would have risen once all the doctors’ losses had been tabulated. The sum the building was insured for as well as the amount that would be recovered from the insurance remains unknown.
In the meantime, the administration is moving ahead with plans to bring some amount of normalcy back to the hospital. While normal operations have resumed, its ability to perform major surgeries remains handicapped. As of last week, the theatre became operational and the institution began offering minor surgery services to the public. However, with one theatre functional, it has placed scheduling pressures on doctors since only one surgery can be performed at a time. The other theatre was completed gutted by the fire.
Mentore said it is expected that reconstruction work will soon start on a new theatre since this is of utmost importance to the hospital.
Commenting on the atmosphere at the hospital, Mentore said a sense of eeriness and loss pervades. Among staff, she said, there is a lack of optimism since some worry about losing their jobs despite being given assurances to the contrary by administration. She said the doctors have been affected as well and opined that though they are not as enthusiastic as before they are still treating their patients.
Further, Mentore said that patient in-take is not as it used to be. This number, she said, is now building up but it is far from normal. The out-patient department while functional has been hard hit as well. She said that there are days when it is busy and others when people just trickle in. The vibrancy of the hospital has been greatly reduced in the aftermath of the fire.
On May 10, fire destroyed the main administrative building of the hospital. A cooperative effort by staff, police and firemen saw a number of patients being evacuated. Since then the administration has been working to restore normalcy to its operations.