Contractor gives 2026 completion date for CRH
MOUNT SALEM, St James — Project manager for the multi-billion-dollar upgrading of the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) Vivian Gordon says completion is set for 2026 — a year later than the deadline last provided by Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton.
Gordon provided the information during a tour of the hospital, on Tuesday, by Care for Cornwall Regional, a group of business interests within Montego Bay that shadows and oversees activities on the long-overdue project.
According to Gordon, the project is currently in its third phase, which started this month and should end next March. This phase includes occupation and equipment procurement. He added that stage two, which will be completed within 30 months, includes design, build and installation of additional equipment. He said contractors had wanted another 36 months to complete the project but eventually agreed to 30.
Tufton and the Andrew Holness-led Administration have taken a battering for the lengthy delays in completing the project. In July, Tufton said phased reopening would start by mid-2024 and the project completed by March 2025. However, the health minister has grown wary of providing deadlines as they have so frequently been missed.
On Tuesday, asked to comment on the deadline provided by the project manager, he stuck to that script.
“I stopped giving timelines long ago because we have had adjustments to timelines that I can’t justify on the basis of giving a timeline because a lot has changed in terms of scope. And what I’ve said to the populace is that the scope has substantially changed. We are building a new hospital, and therefore the timelines will change,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
The health minister also stressed that the facility will be in use before 2026.
“I know you’re stuck on the 30 months, but what you need to do is look at the fact that it is going to be phased in. So, we will start using the building sometime next year, and it will continue until we totally complete it,” he added.
Meanwhile, co-chair of Care for Cornwall Regional Brian Jardim expressed overall satisfaction with the work being done at CRH.
“We’re happy with what we saw today. Clearly, there’s a lot of work left to be done. Clearly, there was a lot of work to be done [in the first place]. The building had a lot of endemic issues with mould and moisture and, you know, it is a 50-odd-year-old building,” he told reporters.
“We went from the basement right through the various floors of the building to see the work that has happened and is continuing to happen to get the facility up and running again. It can’t happen soon enough,” Jardim added.
Established five years ago, Care for Cornwall Regional also provides assistance when possible — either on a commercial level, by providing expertise or raising funds to be used in purchasing equipment for the health facility.
Jardim said Tuesday’s tour was aimed at getting a clear understanding of when the facility will be up and running at full capacity.
“The minister gave us an excellent presentation on next steps and we’ve witnessed quite a transformation on the way, including the existing Cornwall Regional building and the new children’s hospital that’s being built, courtesy of the Government of China,” he stated.
“We understand there’s another two to two-and-a-half year window. We’re looking at probably a 2026 completion turnkey… As Western Jamaicans, it’s a very critical part of our existence, both our team members, our families, our friends, to have a properly functioning medical care facility as the city grows,” the businessman added.
Jardim also spoke of the importance of maintenance, going forward.
“We got some assurances from the minister today, and we’re going to hold him accountable to it, that there will be a proper-running parallel company that manages the processes and the equipment and the maintenance of the building. This is like maintaining a very large hotel complex. It’s a lot of moving parts. He mentioned there’ll be, at certain times, up to 3,000 staff members in this facility [Cornwall Regional Hospital and Western Children Adolescent Hospital combined] — 700-odd beds. It’ll be the most beds on any hospital campus in the Caribbean. So, it’s not a small task. It’s not a small job and we, as members of the business community and as members of Care for Cornwall, we take it pretty seriously. We all need to shadow and give the help that we can to make sure that maintenance continues once it’s handed over,” argued Jardim.