PHILIPSBURG–Contract negotiations with INSO, the chosen bidder, for the design, construction and maintenance contract of the new General Hospital will be completed by August 30.
The construction of the new hospital is still on schedule to start next month according to Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA Emil Lee.
The Ministry announced the news to the media on Sunday with the support of Prime Minister William Marlin, St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) General Director Kees Klarenbeek and Social Health Insurer SZV Director Glen Carty at the Government Administration Building.
The new facility will be able to accommodate additional services that currently are not available locally, attracting more medical specialists and creating new jobs. Three bids for the construction of the new hospital were received last month from BAM/Philips, INSO and VAMED. INSO was selected for contract negotiations based on the unanimous outcomes of five independent evaluation teams that reviewed the three bids based on the main criteria, which included price, quality, timing, local involvement and financing.
INSO scored high on price for design, building and maintenance cost, quality, timing and local involvement. INSO came out with the best overall ranking, a final score of 165.4 out of 200 points. INSO is an international company based in Italy with extensive experience in the construction of hospitals globally and in the region.
“One of my main priorities has been to deliver accessible, quality and affordable healthcare that is close to home. The SMMC has served St. Maarten faithfully, but has outlived her functional lifespan. The staff and specialists deserve to be recognised and commended for their continued commitment and dedication even under difficult circumstances,” said Minister Lee.
“A special thanks to the staff, board and management of SZV as well as the staff of the Ministry of VSA for their continued support. Today we have reached another important milestone in the development of the new St. Maarten General Hospital, a milestone reached not in isolation or secrecy but a milestone reached in an environment of openness, transparency, collaboration and partnership. And it is this inclusive process that will ensure that this hospital project will become a reality.”
BAM/Philips submitted a bid of US $138,943,852, VAMED submitted a bid of $80,149,443 and INSO submitted a bid of $59,578,655. The contract value will be based on INSO’s bid which includes the building of the new General Hospital and state-of-the-art medical equipment. The contract negotiation phase with INSO will address the conditions and financing of the project.
Government is looking at three finance options: via contractor, via the Government of St. Maarten and via SZV. Financing via contractor is the least attractive option. The option via Government saves several million dollars and is the clear preference to have St. Maarten own the new General Hospital.
Government is working diligently on finalising this financing. To avoid delays in the project, SZV will be instrumental in providing the required financing. This will create a favourable return on investment of five per cent for SZV, a much higher return than the current return on investment of its investment portfolio.
According to the project schedule, the next milestone will be the contract closing by August 30. On finalisation of the contract, the construction of the General Hospital would start as of next month and the new General Hospital is scheduled to be operational by mid-2019. All services of the current hospital will remain fully operational throughout the construction phase. It is projected that the new hospital will enable 73 new vacancies for medical and support staff.
SMMC General Director Klarenbeek said the current staff would undergo phased training sessions to improve the quality of service that will be available in the new facility. The new hospital will serve patients requiring medical attention in specialties such as urology, neurology, orthopaedics, haematology, ophthalmology and pulmonology. This will decrease the number of international medical referrals now taking place.
An on-site medivac heliport will increase efficiency in emergency cases. Capacity demands also will be addressed with an increase from 66 to 110 beds in clusters of one and two beds per room and four state-of-the-art operating theatres, including one with a (limited) heart intervention lab. Other additions to the facility include a dedicated dialysis centre, telemedicine for diagnosis and treatment by specialists abroad, increased parking and ease of access for patients and visitors.
“The next big step, the construction of the new General Hospital, is around the corner. There are many more steps ahead towards realising this goal and the tripartite is dedicated to continue working together, collaborating towards expanding the quality of healthcare available in St. Maarten. This for the people of St. Maarten, but also to be able to accommodate Saba, Statia, the neighbouring islands and our tourists,” said Klarenbeek.
Prime Minister Marlin said there was reason for celebration. “This project is one of the programmes that this Government set as priority. We are in an election season and with postulation here, some parties would say that they have plans and intentions for the new hospital, but this Government did what it needed to do to make this a realisation.
“Congratulations to Minister Lee and SZV and the hospital on this new milestone. Government has given its full support to this very important project to St. Maarten and will continue to do so. The benefits for our people, the quality of life and the economy are long-term, truly a win-win-win for all,” stated Marlin.
A protocol was signed by the Ministry of VSA, Social and Health Insurances SZV and the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) on March 26, 2015, to cooperate to develop a sustained and sustainable business case for the SMMC, SZV and VSA and to build the new General Hospital.
SMMC believes the advanced facilities alone will act as a magnet for new, highly-qualified specialists. The increase of regional treatment of people from the French side and the other islands will act as a further stimulus to attract new doctors.
Conservatively, the number of people referred abroad will be reduced by 85 per cent, according to the professional modelling programme, and could be as high as 90 per cent ultimately. This translates into a substantial reduction of the cost of sending people abroad, which will now be used in our local economy, according to Minister Lee.
With the new General Hospital, it will be possible to be treated by a specialist close to home, without having to deal with the logistics of flying out to and staying in another country. An already difficult situation while dealing with illness will become a little less complicated. No travelling, not being separated from family and friends, and reduced language barriers are just some of the key advantages.
Minister Lee discovered on taking office that the Marcel Gumbs cabinet had signed an agreement with an Austrian company for $100,000,000. This was reversed immediately by the new Government, as they wanted a more transparent approach and put the project up for bidding.
As far as who will be the owner of the new hospital, at this stage SZV will become the owner of the new General Hospital unless low-interest financing from the Netherlands becomes available, in which case St. Maarten will own the new General Hospital.
Source: Daily Herald
Construction of a new hospital getting closer