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Thursday, 28 October, 2021
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The elevator may not go to the top floor

We chuckled at the disingenuous suggestion that the supposed state-of-the-art hospital on Nugent Avenue would be opened for business yesterday. This unrealistic claim was made, without the slightest trace of embarrassment or irony, in the Cabinet notes of last week. [CABINET NOTES, Wednesday September 1, 2021]. Said the Cabinet scribe: “The Acting CMO also addressed Cabinet on the number of beds at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre, and noted that 77.78% of the beds at the hospital are taken by Covid-infected patients. Very few beds remain unoccupied at the hospital putting at risk others who fall ill from causes unrelated to Covid; those sick people will suffer unnecessarily if more beds are taken by Covid-19 patients. The 75-bed NTTC Center on Nugent Avenue will be made available from Monday, 6 September, 2021. . . .”Sigh!Seems, these people in high places cannot help themselves when it comes to forthrightness and the unvarnished truth.  It’s complicated for them.

Anyway, the latest that we are hearing from the authorities is that this wonderful state-of-the-art hospital will be ready “by the end of next week.” Of course, we are tempted to wager that “the end of next week” will come and go, and the hospital still will not be fully ready. Yes, we are “of little faith,” what with the countless times that this fast-talking administration has promised so much, and delivered so very little,  . . . and so very rarely at the time promised.

To be sure, the hospital can hardly be said to be in any state of readiness. A few short days ago, the gates to the facility were wide open with all manner of animals and vermin taking over the joint. Vagrants routinely relieved themselves there. The security officers that were once stationed at the entrance in the early days of the renovation, were nowhere in sight. It was a regular open sesame. According to the aforementioned Cabinet notes, “It had been vandalized by thieves who damaged air conditioning units in order to steal copper pipes, and engaged in other harmful activities.”We are not sure why the geniuses in this administration felt that a building that had been renovated at allegedly some $15M, with all sorts of expensive amenities and fixtures, could be left unattended for weeks. Once again,  taxpayers are on the hook for this wilful and woeful failure to be circumspect with our monies.

         Interestingly, we hope that the supposed elevator that those in high places were allegedly waiting on will arrive in time for the grand opening. Don’t laugh, folks! Many months ago, these geniuses claimed that the hospital was ready, save for the installation of an elevator. (at least they did not tell us that they were waiting on ‘plans’ and ‘drawings,’ as they have done with the stalled Tomlinson’s Public Cemetery and the High Street Courthouse renovation). Of course, nobody believed that ‘waiting-on-an-elevator’ nonsense. It was clearly just another lame excuse. After all, if the elevator is on its way, why not continue with the road markings signaling that the area is set aside for emergency vehicles. And what about pedestrian crossings? And ‘No-Standing’ zones? Why not look about setting aside parking for staff and visitors, while waiting on the elevator? Why not continue with the furnishing of the rooms with all the beds and other requisite accoutrements necessary for a modern hospital? And what about signage and lighting and oxygen equipment and hazardous waste disposal facilities, and so on and so forth? Alas! When work ceased on the hospital so many months ago, while they allegedly waited on the elevator, everything else was put on pause. We have never heard of anything so crazy!

And what about the staffing of the facility? We’d already heard from the authorities that we were facing a shortage of nurses here in Antigua and Barbuda. That was the excuse given for the slow pace in opening the Glanvilles and Villa Polyclinics. It was also cited as a concern with the Nugent Avenue facility. We guess that that situation has been suddenly resolved.

Yesterday’s deadline for the opening of the hospital came and went with frenetic work being carried out. Grass was being cut, and two areas on either side of the facility were being cleared, perhaps to be used as parking lots. It is manifestly a rush job, necessitated by our rising Covid numbers and the dire hospital-bed situation at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre. And yes, the sad fact that this administration dithered when the Covid numbers were low, and much more could have been accomplished. Without this frenzy. Hmmm!

Again, we are hoping that the elevator will come in time. But it may not go to the top floor, if you know what we mean. (Wink, wink)We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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