Plans to transform the Accident and Emergency Department of the Princess Margaret Hospital to meet Health’s mandate for the country’s Acute Care Project at PMH, South Beach, and Elizabeth Estates Clinics got a shot in the arm August 8, 2018, as officials from the Public Hospitals Authority and TDG Architects signed a contract for the completion of construction documents which will oversee the work at the Accident and Emergency Department. The project which will be staged owing to the ‘live environment’ in the Emergency Room has a completion timeline of 18 months. On hand to witness the signing was Minister of Health Dr. the Honourable Duane E. Sands who has been a long-time advocate for the implementation of a model that would foster enhanced synergies between the hospital’s Emergency Department and the South Beach and Elizabeth Estates Community Clinics. Sands touted the fact that the Accident and Emergency Department at PMH performs a phenomenal service – as he put it, seeing between 55,000 and 60,000 patients every year many of them critically ill. He added, “Accident and Emergency have, for better or worse, not seen very much of a change in its footprint or its capacity since its last major renovation in about 2006 or2007; and prior to that, not since its construction.”
The Minister of Health, who has been personally involved in the project since its soft launch a few months ago said, “We recognize that there are significant needs for upgrades. And while the plan is to create a brand new Accident & Emergency facility; that is a number of years off. What we are going to do is freshen-up and improve many aspects of the existing Accident and Emergency, expand the footprint, improve the throughput, and ensure the experience that the public has in our Accident and Emergency facility is consistent with what they believe is the appropriate standard for a modern-day Bahamas.” PHA Chairman Julian Rolle and Managing Director Catherine Weech signed on behalf of the Public Hospitals Authority, with Carlos J. Hepburn, Principle Architect and Marcus Laing, Partner, signing on behalf of TDG [The Design Group] Ltd. The new designs seek to meet current building codes where applicable, install fire alarm and fire suppression systems and impact resistant doors and windows and ensure the use of low VOC (volatile organic compounds) materials; while also achieving an aesthetic consistent with the Critical Care Block. It expected that upon completion of the new work the efficiency, interconnectivity and overall public and patient experience in the expanded Accident and Emergency Department will be greatly improved. Marcus Laing TDG Partner thanked the PHA for the opportunity to participate in the project, “We’ve done a few healthcare projects in conjunction with the Government, inclusive of the Critical Care Block. We are happy that Bahamians are being entrusted to do these projects, where we are just as qualified as anyone else who would need to be brought in. Laing added, “TDG is supported by a number of engineering companies that covers all of the other aspects. We will be looking at everything within the bounds of the existing A&E.
We will be looking at the civil works on the outside of the building, and a cover that will allow persons to get in with proper handicapped accessibility, weatherproofing and security measures for the ambulance section of A&E. We are very happy to be doing this, we not only work here, we live here so we have a stake in making sure this done properly.” Minister Sands stressed that the project requires the input and participation of all branches of the Public Health System. He further advised, “In the preparation for this Acute Care Project, involving Accident and Emergency on the one hand, and South Beach and Elizabeth Estates Clinics on the other, there had to be a back and forth, a dialog to consider how we could best optimize the existing Accident and Emergency facility, but at
the same time upgrade the services so that people have a choice, a realistic choice, an alternative for the care of their loved ones. And so when the projects at South Beach, Elizabeth Estates and A&E are complete people will be able to decide after a long day whether they want to go to an Urgent Care Centre in their neighborhood, or not too far
from their homes, or to travel downtown to the epicenter, to ground zero which is Accident and Emergency. The Health Minister concluded by saying, “I think we understand the dynamics, we understand the flow, and we recognize that a patient is a patient. It’s not a public patient or a PMH patient, it’s just a patient. We have one healthcare system and my goal, our goal is to ensure that it functions as one healthcare system.”