Residents of East Grand Bahama were elated and extremely grateful to witness the handover of a state-of-the-art Hospitainer, Primary Health Care Unit (PHC), a generous donation made to the Public Hospital Authority by non-profit organization (NGO), International Medical Corps (IMC).
IMC, along with other NGOs have been on the ground throughout the island rendering much-needed assistance following the devastation due to Hurricane Dorian, which made landfall last September.
The PHC is just one of many donations made by IMC and others, to assist residents of East Grand Bahama in with medical care, as Dorain decimated the High Rock Clinic and other essential service facilities on the eastern end of the island.
Acting Prime K. Peter Turnquest, DPM and Minister and Member of Parliament for East Grand Bahama, during his keynote address at the Government Park, High Rock, where the ceremony took place noted that it was a “wonderful day” for East Grand Bahama.
He added that the utter devastation caused as a result of Dorian, taught residents undeniable life changing lesson.
“Ladies and gentlemen, if there is one lesson that we have learned from this experience, it is that we must build resilience – infrastructure resilience, financial resilience and social resilience. Social resilience is what we are here today to celebrate.
“I want to congratulate those teams of workers in the health care services on Grand Bahama, who have so valiantly performed their functions in this community and throughout the Grand Bahama District and indeed the islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco.
“Many have suffered significant catastrophic damage and losses of their own; lost family members of their own. But through it all, they were here for the community, and here for their people. We owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude. Minister (Dr. Duane Sands, Minister of Health), as the Minister of Finance I never give money freely, as you know. But I do hope that you will find some way, some creative way to recognize them in a tangible way for what they have contributed to this community and to these people,” said Turnquest.
He extended a special thank you to IMC’s representatives and their team that have been in Grand Bahama, immediately following the passing of Hurricane Dorian.
“Karol (Bassim, Team Leader, IMC), who I met not long after the storm, has been a tremendous support to this community, providing hope that it is going to be okay, and that there are others who are concerned and are thinking about us.
“Again, we can never, ever repay you and your team for what you have done for this community. We know that you have suffered and sacrificed, just like the rest of us living here having to experience inconveniences, the depravations that the residents in these communities have likewise had to endure. That says so much about you and who you are and what you believe in. Your humanitarian spirit shines through and obviously, as we would say here in East Grand Bahama, ‘God lives in you,’” Turnquest added.
He noted that the PHC’s commissioning is not just a physical launch of a service, but it is a commitment to restoring hope and lives. “As we look around, we see every day little green shoots of new growth that signals the rebirth of this island, the return of its people.
“I wish to congratulate the people of East Grand Bahama and indeed Grand Bahama, for their resilience in the face of adversity and unprecedented challenges. I want to assure you that we are working together, citizens, businesses and government, along with our international NGO partners and people of good will from around the world … our community will rebuild, stronger and more durable than ever before,” stated the Acting Prime Minister.
Accepting the Hospitainer on behalf of the Government of The Bahamas was Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands, who expressed his sincere gratitude and appreciation to IMC and the countless other NGOs that came to the aid of The Bahamas in its time of need.
“Ladies and gentlemen, as you will recall, at the start of September 2019, The Bahamas, more specifically Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands suffered a direct impact from the most catastrophic and unprecedented hurricane in our history. Many experts around the world have opined that Hurricane Dorian was at least a Category 6. Its impact adversely impacted medical care throughout Abaco and Grand Bahama, especially in East Grand Bahama, where our clinics were totally decimated. Indeed, a casual glance across the street shows what remains of our High Rock Clinic.
“I would be remiss to continue and not at the outset say how deeply appreciative my government is for the outpouring of aid and support administered in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian,” said Dr. Sands.
“Our international friends and allies immediately came to our rescue mobilizing both military forces and disaster response arms of international agencies. Through their prompt response and with the full support of national resources, medical evacuations were implemented, and relief supplies and personnel, including police and Defence Force officers, healthcare professionals, aid workers and engineers were on the ground shortly after the ‘All Clear’ was given.
“The Bahamas owes a tremendous debt to the many international agencies and partners who came to our aid in the days and weeks following Dorian. One of those philanthropic organizations was International Medical Corps, a global non-profit Humanitarian Aid Organization. IMC immediately deployed an emergency response team consisting of specialists, physicians, nurses, logisticians, pharmacists and mental health experts and established and emergency medical tent in High Rock, and has been conducting consultations there from September to December 2019.
“Additionally, their impact was felt in other areas of our community as they employed security officers, transport drivers and made available, volunteer messengers, medical supplies, water and other basic necessities required for clinic operation. You will also notice, on site, two tents that facilitate a triage room and a waiting area,” he pointed out.
Furthermore, he added, IMC generously donated an extension to the clinic, a 240 square foot BBPod modular container, hurricane resistant, waterproof Static Unit, which facilitates the doctor’s exam room, pharmacy space and treatment room.
“Today, ladies and gentlemen, I am elated to accept the Hospitainer Primary Health Care Unit of behalf of the Government of The Bahamas, but most especially on behalf of the people of the High Rock community and Grand Bahama. This wonderful addition to our health care facilities is a fully equipped hurricane proof 20-foot mobile medical clinic, with a consultant room. Thus, our health care teams will be able to administer care inclusive of hygiene, medical, mental and psycho-social health services at the right time and at the right place, to mitigate human suffering. This hospitainer is essential for east enders as you rebuild your lives and homes.
“To IMC, I say thank you for helping us to bring health services and the residents of this community back to self-reliance. The importance of providing access to medical care following a disaster is a critical priority in the face of medical emergencies, given the risk of outbreak, intensifying chronic diseases and decreasing access to health services,” said Dr. Sands.
IMC’s Team Leader Bassim commended the Grand Bahamians for their strength and resilience, which she noted speaks volumes and is one worth emulating.
“I would like to begin my remarks by expressing out sincere thanks and appreciation to the local authorities – the Ministry of Health, Public Hospital Authority, Rand Memorial Hospital, High Rock team and community members who are present and those who couldn’t make it. You those who have sent so much time and effort to accompany us every day in the implementation of the various activities, from design of our programmes until implementation, with a view to support the island in its march towards resilience.
“A preeminent first responder, International Medical Corps provides emergency relief to those struck by disaster no matter where they are, no matter what the conditions, working with them to recover, rebuild and gain the skills and tools required for self-reliance,” said Bassim.
“We started with the tents and today, we celebrate the installation of the BBPod and the arrival of the Hospitainer. The BBPod is a re-purposed ISO Standard 20-foot shipping container with approximately 240 square feet of usable living space, quick-fold and quick deploy fold up doors, with roof and doors extreme weather proof (hurricane, typhoon, tornado, flood, etc,).
“In partnership with the PHA, consultations are now being done inside the BBPod, while the medical tent is being used for patient registration and triage. Today, the fully equipped and hurricane proof Hospitainer (20-feet mobile medical clinic, with one consultation room) is here and will be used throughout Grand Bahama to provide primary health care services,” she added.
The Hospitainer Mobile Unit supports mobility of a full range of diagnostic services and has the complete medical solution integrated in the container structure. It can be used immediately after the storm. Even falling trees cannot break the Hospitainer. It is fully insulated, fully air-conditioned, completely self-sufficient and watertight. It has its own filtration system, weather and storm resistant and safe, even used in combat site.
She continued by informing attendees that this is not the last of intended donations, by IMC, to assist the PHA, in particular Grand Bahama Health Services as yet another donation is expected to arrive later this year.
“In addition we have procured a modular (expandable) 20-foot container mobile clinic on a truck which can fit three consultation rooms. This will arrive sometime in May of this year and will also be used to surge provision of primary healthcare services here on the island.
“I am delighted to join you here today as I honour the dedication of the IMC Bahamas teams, by presenting a gift of life-saving equipment to the community.
“These units are just one component of the strong and continued cooperation between IMC and the Bahamas local authorities and the communities I want to emphasize that bringing these unites would not have been possible were it not for our strong partnership and generous donors such as USAID/OFDA, Latter Day Saints, BBPod and others,” Bassim said.
She concluded by thanking Grand Bahamians for welcoming the IMC team with open arms, treating them all as extensions of their family.
“I am touched by how kind and beautiful you all are. What made our response so special and efficient is that we were highly welcomed and that you all made us feel like we are all a family. You are a leader, by example, to other islands and countries. Your strength and resilience are unique and a lesson to all.”
A number of PHA officials and government officials were also on hand to witness the historic even in East Grand Bahama.