Thursday, July 18, 2024

Construction for San Pedro hospital to start in early 2023


San Pedranos have been waiting for a hospital in San Pedro Town for decades. The past administration spoke about the much-needed health center for the island, but the project never materialized. Under the People’s United Party (PUP), the new administration pledged to deliver on the promise. In March, they confirmed that funds were secured via a grant from the Republic of China (Taiwan). On Independence Day this year, Area Representative Honourable Andre Perez reaffirmed the commitment and said that a ground-breaking for the hospital should take place early in 2023.
The state-of-the-art hospital will be an investment of a $33 million grant. It will be a 45-bed facility offering primary and secondary care services. According to the PUP government, the design of the building will include housing for doctors and nurses. Perez said the long-awaited facility would cater to all medical needs and emergencies. “No longer will we have to be rushing our loved ones to Belize City, medical services we need will now be available right here on the island,” said Perez. He added that he is working with his government colleagues to bring other essential services to San Pedro; this includes opening a branch for the lands department on the island.
San Pedro continues to grow and is now considered a city. Its population is estimated above the 20,000 mark and is Belize’s prime tourism destination. However, the island, affectionately known as La Isla Bonita, lacks a proper medical facility. The primary referral health center is the Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II which serves islanders with limited resources. Medical emergencies cannot be treated, and patients must be airlifted to Belize City. Many island residents say this is unacceptable as San Pedro provides the central government with millions of dollars in taxes. They demand more and better services.
A hospital for San Pedro has been in the pipeline for many years. According to records, talk of its construction goes back to 2011. In 2012 the newly elected Mayor Daniel Guerrero of the United Democratic Party (UDP) indicated that a parcel of land was identified. He claimed that the lot, located on Blake Street south of downtown, was in the hands of the Ministry of Health, and they were working on getting the funds for the building. Later, the PUP was blamed when the former Mayor claimed the opposition party sold the hospital property. Although Guerrero indicated that the hospital was going to be built by the UDP, the project never started.
In 2015, it was revealed that a $20 million investment would be needed to erect the hospital. Former Area Representative Manuel Heredia Jr. announced that the central government was moving closer to completing a loan application to fund the hospital building. That same year, the then Minister of Health, Pablo Marin, also spoke about a San Pedro hospital and committed to moving forward with the project. Marin also stated that there was more in store for the island, but nothing significant ever occurred regarding the much-needed hospital. The last administration under the UDP attempted to get the project started in 2019, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was postponed. They were reportedly trying to work something out with the Taiwanese Government.
With this update on the ground-breaking for the hospital set for early next year, islanders hope plans do not change. The community looks forward to this valuable infrastructure in San Pedro that will make the island a safer home for residents and travelers.

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