Fri | Apr 12, 2024

No guarantee CRH restoration costs won’t go up again

Published:Monday | February 26, 2024 | 12:06 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
Vivian Gordon, project manager in charge of the Cornwall Regional Hospital restoration work, addressing a member’s meeting of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Hospiten medical facility in Montego Bay, St James on Wednesday.
Vivian Gordon, project manager in charge of the Cornwall Regional Hospital restoration work, addressing a member’s meeting of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Hospiten medical facility in Montego Bay, St James on Wednesday.
From left: Vivian Gordon, the project manager for the ongoing rehabilitation work at the Cornwall Regional Hospital; Oral Heaven, the president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI); and Dr Delroy Fray, the clinical coordinator for th
From left: Vivian Gordon, the project manager for the ongoing rehabilitation work at the Cornwall Regional Hospital; Oral Heaven, the president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI); and Dr Delroy Fray, the clinical coordinator for the Western Regional Health Authority [WRHA], engage in the MBCCI's members' meeting, held last Thursday at the Hospiten medical facility in Montego Bay, St James.
Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, St James.
Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, St James.
Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton (right) during a tour of the Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James last year, where he discussed the ongoing restoration project with (from left) Qiu Ye Bo, Fiona Wang, and Conrad Pitkin, custos of St James.
Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton (right) during a tour of the Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James last year, where he discussed the ongoing restoration project with (from left) Qiu Ye Bo, Fiona Wang, and Conrad Pitkin, custos of St James.
1
2
3
4

WESTERN BUREAU:

With the price tag for the rehabilitation work at the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) now set at $21.4 billion, up from its last estimate of $14.6 billion, there is no certainty on whether the cost will remain the same or increase further before completion by April 2026.

Vivian Gordon, the project manager in charge of the CRH restoration work, made the frank admission last Thursday evening, while addressing a members’ meeting of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) at the Hospiten medical facility in Montego Bay, St James.

“It would be foolhardy of me to stand here before you and try to assure anybody among the people of Jamaica or Montego Bay, that I can tell you right now that nothing adverse will happen. I know one thing, that we have a contract, and my intention is to ensure that we deliver what is contained in that contract within the timeframe and the budget outlined in it, and that’s what my focus is right now,” Gordon said briefly during the meeting’s question-and-answer session where the project’s cost was raised for discussion.

The current $21.4-billion price tag for the CRH’s restoration was revealed on February 15 in the Estimates of Expenditure for the 2024-2025 fiscal year that were tabled in Parliament. According to that document, approximately $6.7 billion has been spent on the project, with $5.8 billion projected for the upcoming financial year and approximately $8.9 billion for the two years leading up to March 2027.

The latest estimate is more than 10 times the initial cost of $2 billion which was projected in March 2018, with multiple increases to the figure since that time.

Gordon also addressed repeated suggestions that it would be simpler to construct a brand-new hospital from scratch, referencing a town hall meeting in March 2023 where it was estimated that the cost of a new hospital would be significantly more than what currently pertains for restoring the CRH’s current building.

SUGGESTED BUDGET

“At the town hall meeting last year March, the commissioning agent, who is part of the design review team, had suggested that a hospital of this nature, done from scratch, could be in the order of $30 billion, and that figure would not include equipment. For it to be Class A, it could be in the order of as much as $60 billion … If they were budgeting for a similar hospital with an equal number of beds as what we have here, to be built from scratch, the figure, with equipment, could be as much as $60 billion,” said Gordon.

“I have been on the project for just over two years, and I still am convinced that what we’re doing now with fixing up this building is the right thing to do. There is project management planning that can take the discussion to a different level, but the fact is, the work that we’ve done here is intended to breathe life into the building for another 30 years,” Gordon stressed. “The reality is that there is no built-environment solution that has an indefinite lifetime, but I know the work we have done here will serve the community for a very long time.”

The CRH, which is the only Type A hospital in western Jamaica, has been undergoing its lengthy rehabilitation process since February 2017, when noxious fumes from the hospital’s ventilation system forced the evacuation of services from the facility’s first three floors. That incident followed a similar complaint of noxious fumes five months earlier in September 2016, which had previously resulted in the CRH’s accident and emergency ward being evacuated.

Concerns about the air quality at the 10-floor facility, which was first built in 1974, had previously arisen as far back as 2009.

christopher.thomas@gleanerjm.com