THE top two floors of the central building at the Port of Spain General Hospital were cleared out yesterday after Tuesday’s earthquake, as the Ministry of Health awaits yet another report on the structural integrity of the building.
A media release yesterday from the Health Ministry said the hospital was decanting patients from the top two floors in phase one of the move. More patients are expected to be moved today from the remaining floors, and if any remain they will be transferred on Friday. The decision was taken “out of an abundance of caution” for staff and patients, the ministry said.
Patients were relocated to other areas within the hospital and some were transferred to hospitals in the North Central Regional Health Authority and the South West Regional Health Authority. Outpatients are advised that the physiotherapy services, as well as the physical and medicine and rehabilitation clinics, have been suspended until further notice while all other outpatient clinics continue as normal.
Speaking with Newsday yesterday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said he gave the order to evacuate the two floors after officials from the Urban Development Company of TT (UdeCOTT) visited. He said he will be given a report today on the structural integrity of the building.
The evacuated 400-bed section has been earmarked for reconstruction after a Cabinet decision last month and a new 500-bed block would replace it. The six-storey building was constructed in 1952 and houses in-patient and clinical services. Deyalsingh said last month, past studies “have cast serious doubt as to the structural integrity of the building.” A 2009 Pan American Health Organisation report found “major deficiencies” and regarded it as structurally unsound and unable to withstand an earthquake.
Last year the Prime Minister expressed concerns about the structural integrity of the same building and questioned how it will fare in an earthquake. Deyalsingh said then that he was awaiting the results of a fourth report before submitting any recommendations to Cabinet. He said then that since becoming minister in 2015, he got three reports recommending work be done on the building. To date only some retrofitting has been done.