Speech by Ms. Jearlean John, Chairman,UDeCOTT at Sod-Turning Ceremony for Couva Children’s Hospital

Contact: Corporate Communications, 627-0083

March 2, 2012


  • The Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago;
  • Dr. The Honourable Roodal Moonilal MP, Minister of Housing and the Environment;
  • Dr. The Honourable Fuad Khan, Minister of Health;
  • Dr. The Honourable Glen Ramadharsingh Member of Parliament for Couva North;
  • Honourable Members of Cabinet;
  • Ms. Antonia Popplewell, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health;
  • Officials from the Ministry of Health;
  • Representative from the IRO……………
  • Specially invited Guests;
  • Members of the Media;
  • Ladies and Gentlemen.

We have all, at one time or the other, verbalised how important it is that we provide for, invest in and take care of the well-being of our Nation’s Future – our Children.

Whether Proper Health Care, Education or Sound Spiritual and Moral Values, many citizens are bound by that vow to take care of the young people, as too the old, to help them make their way, through this world.

I stand here today a proud citizen, knowing that UDeCOTT is about to embark on yet again – another signature project that speaks directly to the well-being and development of our Children – the construction of the Couva Children’s Hospital.

This Children’s Hospital and Multi-Training Centre for Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacology will be a self-contained, centralized medical facility equipped with the most modern and high-end medical equipment.

  • The facility will house 230 Beds;
  • A Burns Care Unit;
  • Central Pharmacy;
  • Children’s and Adult’s Casualty Clinic;
  • Helicopter Rooftop Access for Emergencies;

This project is proposed to be a Design-Finance-Construct model.

This exciting project leads me, to yet another ground-breaking UDeCOTT Health Project, which is pacing ahead and promises to transform, health care services in the Southland, but also transcending across all national boundaries, due to its coming impact on national healthcare.

I speak of no other than the Chancery Lane Medical Complex.

This retrofitted 468,000 square feet Medical Complex will have 216 Beds; Paediatric Wards; Adult Wards; Children’s and Adult Outpatient, Mother and Child, Porter Services; Functional Diagnostics, On Call Room; Lecture Rooms; Administrative Offices, Retail Space and Parking Lots.

You would recall that the Chancery Lane Medical Complex was originally conceptualised as Administrative Offices and Retail Space. However, given the chronic bed shortage and over-crowding at the neighbouring San Fernando General Hospital, the SWRHA in conjunction with UDeCOTT examined the prospect of the adjacent facility being utilised as a hospital facility.

Following a competitive bid process, UDeCOTT engaged S&P Architects, a firm of expert health care architects from the UK, to undertake a study to assess the feasibility of the adaptive re-use of the project and their Report which was submitted in August 2011; stated that the adaptive re-use of the building is feasible.

I am happy to report, that after the findings as laid in the Report, there were several meetings undertaken with technical staff from the Ministry of Health, SWRHA and UDeCOTT and the Design-Build Team nominated by the Austrian Government for the project during the period September through October 2011.

These meetings resulted in a collaborative assessment of the needs from a clinical and patient care perspective and what was structurally possible at the Chancery Lane Building.

It is our respectful view that the adaptive re-use plan that was proposed and which we understand was then approved by the Ministry of Health in principle is the most appropriate.

In terms of costs for the adaptive reuse of Chancery Lane, I am aware that the proposed unit costs are far below prices in terms of comparison, as to what would have to be paid to construct and outfit a freshly built facility – hence saving tax-payers millions of dollars.

A bridge between the Chancery Lane Hospital Complex and the San Fernando General Hospital will also be constructed for ease of access.

With guidance from the Ministry of Health, the SWRHA and UDeCOTT were and remain adamant in the cause of ensuring all best practice international standards are adhered to, inclusive of infection control, which will be carved out via contracts which make certain that these internationally established standards are met.

To ensure that there is seamless health care provision between the two structural facilities, we envisage that Phase 2 which encapsulates structural work at San Fernando General Hospital and carded for 2013 and 2014 will be expeditiously completed on time and within budget.

I also look forward with great anticipation to other Health Portfolio Projects, which are soon to come fully on stream and include the Point Fortin Hospital, Arima Hospital, National Oncology Centre, The Rehabilitation Centre in Penal and the upgrade of the Port of Spain General Hospital.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you!