Tufton insists no cost overrun at Cornwall Regional
Minister says price hike a matter of project 'rescoping'
Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, St James, which is undergoing construction.

Amid concerns of a cost overrun for the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) restoration project, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton dispelled the notion on Tuesday, noting that "rescoping" is now taking place.

Tufton, who was addressing a virtual press conference which provided an update on the hospital, said the estimated cost for the project increased from $10.5 billion to $14.1 billion.

Of the new estimate, $2.5 billion will go towards new equipment and $1.1 billion will be used for technical services.

"This is not a case of cost overruns. It is a case of a rescoping of a project to create a new facility that the people of western Jamaica deserve, and this Government has decided to do that by putting up the resources to do it. And I think that this requires a recognition and appreciation for all of us because, ultimately, the benefits will accrue to the people on the ground of service," said Tufton.

"The issue of Cornwall Regional Hospital has been an ongoing discussion — a very long and ongoing discussion. The rehabilitation programme has taken some time, and more recently the cost associated with the final phase of rehabilitation — phase three — has been the subject of some discussions and some concerns, with assumptions being made around ballooning costs and cost overruns as opposed to re-scoping of the project," he said.

According to Tufton, a part of the challenge with the concerns of the project expressed is that said concerns fail to account for the fact that a different hospital will be created from a "failed building; a sick building".

"It will be different in the sense of the facilities that are there, it will be different in terms of some of the services that are going to be offered, and it will be different in terms of general levels of comfort — both for staff as well as for patients," said Tufton.

"The discussions also fail to recognise that what has transpired over the number of years during this process is not an attempt at fixing one problem. It's a re-scoping of the approach to rehabilitating the main building at CRH and, in effect, where we are now — and we do have a road map," he said.

Meanwhile Vivian Gordon, who is project manager for the CRH Rehabilitation Project, noted that the development is currently at phase two B which should be completed April 4.

"We then will have a building that is now structurally sound, sealed — as in all the areas where water was seen coming in, and where moisture was an issue — [and which] will be ready for phase three to start," said Gordon.

"Part of phase three is to ensure that the services that support the building are also modern. The team has also seen, going forward, how people will be able to access services and how it will be more data-driven. Therefore, going ahead, what we have to do is ensure that provisions are in place to allow for this move, and in so doing we will make the provision in phase three," he added.

The objective of the multimillion-dollar project is to improve service delivery in the public health system by rehabilitating the CRH to include heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems; and information and communications technology systems.

BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON Observer staff reporter hutchinsonb@jamaicaobserver.com

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