Brac’s Faith Hospital reopens

Work on an ambitious renovation
plan of Faith Hospital began in mid-2008 in an effort to ensure services kept
up with population growth and to upgrade the aging facility.

Then, Hurricane Paloma blew through
Cayman Brac with 151 miles per hour winds on 8 November, devastating homes and structures
throughout the Island and leaving the hospital damaged and without power.

This turned the renovation work into
a repair and recovery project, but as with other sites on the Island, Brackers
used the damage done by the storm to upgrade and build back better.

At a ceremony to officially reopen
the hospital and announce to residents of the Sister Islands that it was now business
as usual, politicians, dignitaries, hospital staff and health officials
gathered in the late afternoon of Friday, 26 February, under a multicoloured
tent on the hospital grounds.

The hospital, which was first built
with the sweat, money and labour of Cayman Brackers nearly 40 years ago, had
the support of the government and the Health Services Authority when it was
being rebuilt and renovated, but in typical fashion, was also strongly backed
by the local community.

When the idea of a hospital for Cayman
Brac was first mooted, there were no government funds or support available to
build it, so the people of the Island took it upon themselves to build their
own hospital, which was completed in 1972. Hence, the building still carries
the legend “Faith Hospital, by the People, for the People”.

The land was donated by the late
Captain Charles Kirkconnell, and fittingly, the hospital was reopened the day
before his funeral. At the ceremony, Health Services Authority Chief Executive Officer
Lizzette Yearwood announced that the HSA board had agreed to name the
in-patient unit of the hospital after Captain Charles.

“Faith Hospital largely exists as a
result of Captain Charles’s vision and commitment to his fellow community
members. He donated the land on which the hospital stands and he was the
driving force in raising the funds required to realise this vision,” Mrs.
Yearwood said.

Other speakers at the ceremony also
paid tribute to the captain’s central role in ensuring the Island had its own
hospital and a moment of silence was observed to remember him.

The recent
renovations cost $1.26 million, under the $1.3 million budget set aside for the
building work. The damage done by Paloma had the unexpected
benefit of enabling the upgrading of the roof and in-patient area, due to a
$1.2 million insurance payout.

During the renovation work, some
services and patients were moved to the Tibbetts Annex and Kirkconnell
Community Centre.

Mrs. Yearwood, a Bracker who began
her career in the field of health at Faith Hospital where she worked as a
nurse’s aide before leaving the Island to study, said: “This is where I got my
love of nursing.”

The work to get the hospital back
up and running was long and arduous, according to Dr. Srirangan Velusamy,
director of the Sister Islands Health Services. “Those who know when we started
this programme, it is really a long, long, long road, but we are there. We have
reached the end and we are so delighted it is complete.”

Among the facelifts at the hospital
is a new location for the pharmacy, a bigger laboratory, enhanced birthing
facilities, and improvements of radiology facilities with the addition of a
digital imaging system.

Minister of Health Mark Scotland
said at the opening that the hospital would also expand its cardiac care and oncology
services and would examine how overseas referrals are managed.

The new digital imaging system will
mean X-rays taken at Faith Hospital can be viewed immediately in Grand Cayman.

“The turnaround reporting time
before was a week or 10 days,” Mr. Velusamy said. “Now it will be real time in
which it will be reported in Grand Cayman. This will have a huge impact on our
patients and on our treating physicians because we get the results straightaway
and can make a timely clinical decision.”

He said this would reduce the
number of patients sent to Grand Cayman.

Mr. Velusamy said the community of
the Cayman Brac and the hospital staff were extremely supportive during the
extended renovation work. “The staff were asked to move to different places
every three months, but they were very tolerant.”

He also thanked the Friends of
Faith Hospital Group, an offshoot of the project made up of community members,
gave advice and support throughout the rebuilding of the hospital.

Pastor Davelee Tibbetts, who gave
the blessing at the ceremony, said the building would now serve a new multitude
of purposes.

Among the other speakers were
Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Acting Chairman of the Health
Services Authority Board Peter Young and Sister Islands MLA Moses Kirkconnell.

Mr. Kirkconnell thanked the board
for naming a wing after his uncle Charles. “He did not ask for recognition. He
humbly became involved and gave with a good spirit and did what he could to
help go forward, and he did it with a group of people that surrounded him and
worked with him,” Mr. Kirkconnell said.

“They came from every part of this Island
and every part of these Islands. I believe his theme, or his thought, was
people working together and what that can accomplish. The evidence is here,
when you look at not only the bricks and mortar but what this means to our

He added: “This is
what Uncle Charles would want you to remember – we built this together.”


A packed audience attended the opening of Faith Hospital.
Norma Connolly