PHILIPSBURG – 25 million dollars, that’s the total amount of the ‘grant agreement’ that the Sint Maarten Medical Center and the World Bank agreed on.
These funds are destined for the Sint Maarten Hospital Resiliency and Preparedness Project. The funds will not be paid out in one lump-sum payment but will be paid out in installments after the successful completion of various stages of a long process and following audits to be carried out by the World Bank.
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By Tim van Dijk and Marcia van Oers
To ensure that the process would flow smoothly, workshops were held for three days during October where the hospital staff met with representatives from the World Bank.
Carolyn Shelton, Senior Operations Officer at the World Bank: “The workshops were the formal launch for the projects that the hospital has planned.” The World Bank has often been criticized for dragging its feet when it comes to releasing funds. “There’s a lot of work involved in planning for such a large project”, says Shelton.
How will the SMMC spend the 25 million?
The 25 million dollar ‘grant agreement’ provides funds for amongst other things reinforcing the current hospital so as to make it hurricane-proof. Workers are currently reinforcing the roof to ensure that it can withstand a category 4 hurricane.
This project should be finished within one month. By then the roof should be sturdy enough to withstand future hurricanes. But reinforcing the roof is only one small part of the project which should take 5 years to complete. The biggest chunk of change will go towards the construction of the a hospital, a decision which was made after hurricane Irma, to ensure that the design will be able to withstand category 5+ hurricanes.
The entire 25 million will be divided between 3 components:
* 17 million dollars are allocated towards component 1, the upgrades to the designs for the new hospital. This should ensure that the hospital will be able to withstand category 5+ hurricanes with sustained winds above 200 miles per hour. Fire prevention, expanding the Emergency Department and Dialysis Department are some of the objectives of this component.
* 7,7 million dollars have been allocated towards component 2, the Transition and Contingency Plan, the reinforcement of the current hospital. This will ensure that the hospital remains in operation while the other one is being built. The transition from the old hospital to the new one also brings with it its own difficulties which need to be planned for and proper investments have to be made. Unforeseen circumstances also have to be taken into account, and budgeted for.
* 300.000 dollars have been allocated towards component 3, project management: the staff needed to execute the plan, internal technical audits, operational expenses, and materials. The costs for the accreditation procedure to receive the Joint Commission International (JCI) standard also fall under this component.
Kees Klarenbeek, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the SMMC: “The new hospital should ensure that less patients have to travel abroad to receive care, because certain medical treatments would be available here on Sint Maarten. The new hospital will provide us with opportunities to attract new specialists.”