Public Prefers Current Hospital Site, Challenges Tech Teams Recommendation
Despite the current site being the most suitable one according to the evaluation criteria, the technical committee is recommending a location in Little Bay to build a new hospital.
On Wednesday evening, residents turned out to the Brades Arts & Education Centre to learn about the options under consideration for building the new healthcare facility.
According to Principle Environmental Officer Trevor Howe who presented the findings, eight locations were evaluated based on predefined criteria using international best practice.
Priority was given to Crown lands to reduce initial costs, environmental and social factors, land sizes of two acres or more, also road and utility access.
The locations are:
- Current hospital site
- Little Bay 1 to the left of Social Security
- Little Bay 2 to the South of the Montserrat Cultural Centre
- Davy Hill – North side of the hill
- Brades – Near Government Headquarters
- Geralds – Near the tunnel
- Drummonds – Near the airport
- Lookout – Next to the St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church
Little Bay 1 had a medium risk of landslides and flooding and would require major earthworks. It did not comply with the current Physical Development Plan (PDP) and would incur huge costs for preparation of the site.
Little Bay 2 would require extensive excavation, is vulnerable to landslides and would have a high environmental impact. It was however compliant with the PDP and could possibly have high costs for site preparation.
Davy Hill was very steep and would require very extensive and expensive earthworks to prepare the location. It was not compliant with the PDP and the topography was prone to landslides. There is also limited scope for future development.
The current hospital site was slightly under the required two acres at 1.85 acres. There was limited possibility for future development, minimal costs for site development, high relocations costs and disruption to hospital services.
The challenges presented with building the hospital in Brades near the current headquarters include multiple owners to deal with on land acquisition and only one road access. Potential environmental impact was low but possible affects on coastal cliff and ghaut. The area which is already heavily developed and the time implications to complete negotiations with land owners were concerns expressed by the technical team.
Geralds was found to be flood prone, would have a high environmental impact and close to the airport runway. Although it had 3.5 acres available there was minimal scope for future development. Noise pollution and the challenges to acquire the land from private owners were factors which ranked it quite low at number 6.
Drummonds had no scope for future development with possible land acquisition issues. There was a need for an alternate access road and the proximity to the airport was a concern.
While the current site ranked first based on the criteria, the technical committee selected Little Bay 1 as the preferred home for the hospital because of the government and DFID’s preference for a green field site. DFID has also committed to funding the site preparation costs for the location chosen.
Members of the public queried why not build at the current location. They did not feel that construction happening while patient care continued would differ greatly from previous rehabilitation projects that have been done at the Glendon Hospital.
Hon. Parliamentary Member Dr Ingrid Buffonge, who is an A&E doctor at the hospital said she was in agreement with the selection of Little Bay 1. She said the hospital being built in what is proposed as the new town could become the catalyst to develop Little Bay and would encourage others to build there as well. The doctor said that while we are all creatures of habit, there was no scope for a future development of health care if the current site was chosen.
Former parliamentarian Jermaine Wade queried the selection based on the committee’s mention of PAHO/WHO wanting hospitals to be environmentally safe. Howe’s response was that the committee rated Little Bay at medium risk to ensure the Environmental Impact Assessment to be done looks seriously at any potential risks.
Hon. Parliamentary Member Gregory Willock said while many people are attached and comfortable with the current location we must be open to the new possibilities of a brand new hospital in an area which has potential for the island’s future development.
See more images of the slides and consultation attendees on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DiscoverMNI .