Member of Parliament for Christ Church West Dr Maria Agard has described the closure of the St Joseph Hospital as a travesty.
“I feel that we have dropped the ball in allowing the St Joseph Hospital not only to be closed but to run into ruin,” Dr Agard told Parliament this afternoon.
The St Peter based medical institution was first closed in 1986 by the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), which claimed at the time that the institution was losing money.
It was subsequently renovated and re-opened by the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) after it came to power but another change in Government saw the BLP shutting the facility again in 1995.
In condemning the closure, Dr Agard, who admitted to having some respiratory distress, told the House: “Its closure I consider to be a travesty. I don’t even know who to blame for that,” she said, adding that the facility could have played a major role in the country’s push towards medical tourism.
“If you have had the opportunity to drive to St Peter, Mile-and-a-Quarter, and to traverse that property, it was one of the most aesthetic and serene properties in this country. And we could have used the
St Joseph Hospital to advance our interest in medical tourism and we failed to do it.
“So we speak very glibly about medical tourism and how we want to introduce it to this country and how it can do so much for Barbados and we had it in our hands, on our fingertips, and we dropped the ball,” the expelled member of the Opposition BLP charged.
In his contribution, Minister of Housing and Lands Denis Kellman also took a swipe at the BLP, and in particular St James North MP Edmund Hinkson, following the medical institution’s closure over 20 years ago.
“They were able to close it down but as the Government’s landlord I am now looking to see how I can correct that. I think not only can it be a good private hospital again, but it can also be a good teaching private hospital and I am hoping that the honourable member for St James North, seeing that it is pretty close to his constituency, that he will help me in finding a good person or entity to open that institution that his party would have closed in the north of Barbados.”
Kellman charged that the shut down had deprived many of educational and economic opportunities.
“An institution like a hospital in a green area can create real economic growth in a country,” he said.