$500M wing of St Joseph Mercy Hospital commissioned

The north wing of the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital was reopened and rededicated yesterday at a simple ceremony at the hospital’s Kingston location three years following a devastating fire.

In his address to the audience, Chairman of the board at the hospital, Conrad Plummer said that this first phase is referred

A section of the North Wing of the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital
A section of the North Wing of the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital

to as the ‘mercy miracle.’ He advised those in attendance that the second phase will be on the cards soon. He also stated that the facilities and equipment are new, and as such should be preserved by all users.

Helen Browman, CEO of the hospital in her speech said that it was indeed a miracle that no one was injured when the fire broke out and that only the wooden section of the hospital was destroyed. She said that the tragedy gave them time to reflect and strategically shape the future of the hospital. “We were able to receive an insurance settlement with respect to the destroyed building and equipment. The site was cleared at very little cost, thanks to Mr. Brian Tiwari of BK international, Mike and Chris Correia of Correia Mining Group and Alan Fernandes of John Fernandes who all lent equipment and labour to have the site cleared in record time.”

Browman stated that they were able to refurbish the North Wing at an estimate of US$2.5M in two phases. Phase one she said, entailed the construction of a new building to house the medical and surgical supplies and the renovation of the north wing, and the second phase entailed the replacement of the building that was destroyed by the fire.

The new building was constructed at a cost of $60M and houses a second operating room and a four-bed recovery room, the expansion of HDU/ICU from 2 beds to 4 beds, improved spaces for doctors and staff, and on-call rooms for the emergency room. Equipment was also upgraded in the laboratory department, x ray department and around the hospital. Browman added that they are currently awaiting beds for the hospital.

Browman stated that a hospital recovery committee was set up in Toronto, headed by Joe Castanheiro and others who were instrumental in raising $36M. In addition, she said that the Guyana Christian Charities received a further $15M in donations for the project and that these funds were used in apart to construct and refurbish the new emergency room.

Browman added that in excess of $20M was raised by the Chairperson of the local Mercy Auxiliary which was used to refurbish and reequip the birthing suite. A corporate appeal was also launched locally and in excess of $70M was raised and $5M was contributed by platinum sponsors for rooms in the north wing.

Prime Minister Samuel Hinds said that the Government has acknowledged the long years of commendable contributions of the hospital to health care in Guyana. He also lauded those who contributed to the rehabilitation of the north wing.

On May 10, 2010 a fire broke out in the upper section of the Colonna building which was the original building of the hospital since 1945. The building which housed the rooms for the medical records, chapel, emergency room and admission offices was completely destroyed, and the losses were estimated at $600M.

Also in attendance were overseas based and local donors, Ministers of government and other officials. There were also performances by the St. John Bosco steel pan band and the nursing students choir led by Phillip Adams.

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