The official reopening of the Mary Charles Hospital in Molineux will take place tomorrow, Wednesday, August 31st, 2016 at 4:30pm, equipping the Keys to Saddlers Medical District with state-of-the-art healthcare thereby bringing it on par with the other districts.

“The Government took the decision that the same standard to which Pogson [Hospital in Sandy Point] was replaced and rebuilt and JNF [Hospital in Basseterre] would have been rebuilt is the same standard that we have chosen for Mary Charles,” the Honourable Wendy Phipps, Minister of State within the Ministry of Health et al., said to resounding applause during an interactive Discussions for Prosperity town hall meeting on Monday, July 18th.  The Team Unity Government’s town hall meeting took place at the Joshua Obadiah Williams Primary School in Molineux.

Minister Phipps said that, technically, Mary Charles Hospital never officially closed during the renovation works because the Ministry of Health put in a small emergency room section in the former dental unit on the compound.  “We could not completely shut down emergency services on the eastern corridor of the island,” the Senator said, adding that the Ministry of Health ensured the Keys to Saddlers Medical District still had ready access to emergency medical care like suturing and other minor procedures.  All major cases were transferred to the Joseph N. France General Hospital.

The renovation works have resulted in substantial upgrades to the hospital building, which was constructed in the 1980s.  For instance, workmen replaced all of the electrical wiring, due to extensive corrosion, and installed 110-volt outlets that are compatible with the latest medical technology.  When the Honourable Wendy Phipps toured the hospital on February 11th, she said that, “To date, the unit is only housed with 220 electricity, and of course a lot of our more modern medical equipment would be running on 110 power.  It makes it more convenient to have access to new and more modern pieces of medical equipment, so that we can get the kind of care to the patients and residents in this surrounding area in a faster manner.”

Comprehensive repairs to the ceiling and roof of the hospital were also done.  Other work included the fencing of the compound, the expansion of the parking lot to extend it to the back of the building, the placement of two gates to enable separate entry and exit points, the installation of new toilets and basins, as well as tiling of the bathrooms and replacement of the hospital flooring.  The emergency room area was enlarged, new cabinets were installed in the casualty and kitchen areas, and the building was completely painted.  The painters used colour schemes identical to those at the Joseph N. France and Pogson Hospitals, to ensure uniformity in branding.

Furthermore, an awning over the entry doorway was built to protect and extend the life of the doors.  Senator Phipps noted that all the doors were replaced and several doors added to enhance the easy flow of people in and out of the building.  “Wherever possible, we have also put in vinyl doors, so that they do not suffer from the usual corrosion because of salty air, etc.,” Minister Phipps added.

“The conference room, as well as the existing A&E [accident and emergency department] will be completed once the project reopens. Once we get the main part of the hospital up and running then we will finish the conference room downstairs, and we are replacing the dental unit…I should also add that, for the first time in many years, Mary Charles will have back its own ambulance,” the Senator said.

The latter part of her statement mentioning Mary Charles’ “own ambulance” received overwhelming applause and cheers from the audience, who also responded with interest when she announced that water storage tanks would be installed.

“Basically, the entire hospital is almost like a brand-new hospital because I would be here all night if I told you everything,” Senator Wendy Phipps told the town hall audience in Molineux on July 18th. The Senator added that, “To date, a total of almost $710,000.00 has been spent by the Ministry of Health on the entire project…and we still have another $35,470.00 in labour and another $150,000.00 in materials yet to go in.  So you’re getting back practically a brand-new Mary Charles Hospital.”

That night, the Minister of State within the Ministry of Health drew a sharp distinction between the Team Unity Government and the previous government, in terms of investment in the Keys to Saddlers Medical District.

“It appears that there was absolutely no work that was done by the last administration during the 20 years on Mary Charles,” Minister Phipps said.  “It is evident based on the scope of work [outlined] because we had to expand all the things that we said we were going to do on first blush,” she added.

“Everything came to [a head] for us one morning…when we [the Cabinet of Ministers] got a call that part of the ceiling over the female ward had dropped in and luckily there was nobody lying in the bed underneath it,” the Senator told the town hall audience, noting that an emergency repair was quickly started following the partial collapse.

“It was only on closer examination that we saw how badly off the facility was, so work on the actual repairs began in late 2015 after that incident,” Minister Phipps told the community members, who no doubt will be front and centre when the doors open to their brand-new hospital tomorrow, Wednesday.