Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
In another move ahead of election, the National Democratic Party (NDP) administration will be looking to the House of Assembly to approve the renaming of the multimillion dollar new Peebles Hospital, in honour of its immediate past-president and outgoing Premier, Hon. Dr. D. Orlando Smith.
In an amended Order Paper issued on Friday, January 11, it was disclosed that Hon. Marlon Penn, Minister of Health and Social Development, will on Tuesday, January 15 move a Motion to rename the Hospital, “Dr. D. Orlando Smith Hospital”.
It is left to be seen how the votes will go, as the Opposition numbers have increased, but the NDP government still holds the majority with seven seats, including that of Deputy Premier Hon. Dr Kedrick Pickering, who will not be running under the party’s banner at the upcoming polls.
The Opposition, with three parties, occupies five seats in the HOA.
The Peebles Hospital, which has been labelled the eternity project with a cost of $100M and counting, is a project which former Health Minister and now Opposition Leader, Hon. Ronnie Skelton is proud of.
After hurricane Irma in September 2017, he boasted how the building withstood the catastrophic storm.
Hon. Andrew Fahie, Opposition Member and Chairman of the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) has repeatedly criticized the lack of proper financial planning for the project.
In 2014, Premier Smith had confirmed with reporters that there is an audit report on the project and his government intends to make it public, but to date that has not been done.
Also, a previous report from a forensic investigation into government finances had called for an investigation into the new Peebles Hospital project, which incurred millions in debt.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Advisory Services Limited was engaged by the NDP government to conduct the forensic examination of the finances prepared by the Treasury Department and to review the award of major contracts during 2011.
According to the PwC report, the government's net fiscal position changed significantly in 2009 after $95 million in debt was secured to construct the new hospital.
According to the Motion, the Ministry of Health and Social Development operates an initiative to dedicate the name of public health facilities to the honour of community stalwarts who have contributed significantly to the BVI health sector.
“WHEREAS a Committee established to identify, consider and make recommendations for the re-naming of “Peebles Hospital” recommended that “Peebles Hospital” be re-named in honour of DR. THE HONOURABLE D. ORLANDO SMITH, OBE, in recognition of his pioneering efforts to improve healthcare for the residents of the Virgin Islands,” the Motion states.
Further, Dr. Smith has served in several capacities at Peebles Hospital over many years, including Medical Officer (1970-1971), Senior Registrar of Surgery (1975-1976), Surgeon (1995-1999), and Chief Medical Officer (1979-1995).
It further states that Dr. Smith continues to serve as a physician in a private practice through “PicSmith Medical Services”, which was established in 1992; was named in the Queen's New Year's Honours List and was awarded an Order of British Empire (OBE) for his years of outstanding and dedicated service to the BVI community; and is known and well respected within the healthcare field and the entire Virgin Islands; and currently serves as Premier of the Virgin Islands.
The Motion states, “NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Assembly of the Virgin Islands approves the re-naming of “Peebles Hospital” to “Dr. D. Orlando Smith Hospital” and that “Peebles Hospital” be henceforth known as “Dr. D. Orlando Smith Hospital.”