Teams must qualify to bid on new mental health facility

Currently, the only mental health facility in the Cayman Islands is the eight-bed Mental Health Center at the Cayman Islands Hospital. - PHOTO: CHRIS COURT
Currently, the only mental health facility in the Cayman Islands is the eight-bed Mental Health Center at the Cayman Islands Hospital. – PHOTO: CHRIS COURT

Consultants interested in designing the $16 million mental health facility will have to pre-qualify before bidding opens next month.

A government notice last week said consultant teams, with architects, engineers, and IT and security experts, must submit qualifications by Nov. 11.

The invitation for consultant teams from the Central Tenders Committee states that government expects to issue the full request for proposal to qualified teams on Nov. 28.

An outline business case, released over the summer, recommends a 42-bed long-term residential facility for mental health patients in the Cayman Islands. A site has not yet been selected for the 15-acre facility, but it will be somewhere in the eastern districts. If the project stays on track, construction may begin as early as July, with the aim of opening the facility in early 2019.

In a written statement released with the outline business case, Premier Alden McLaughlin said, “This has been a long time coming, but my administration is determined to ensure that we achieve this important milestone in the healthcare we provide for our people. Those who require treatment, often the most vulnerable in our society, will no longer have to be sent overseas and separated from loved ones to get the care they need.”

A residential facility for mental health patients has been years in the making. Currently, there are only a handful of beds for mental health patients in the Cayman Islands, and those beds are for short-term patients in an emergency situation. Long-term mental health patients have to go to residential facilities in the United States or Jamaica.

As of last summer, there were 14 patients from Cayman in overseas mental health facilities, which costs government about $630,000 a year, according to the outline business case report. KPMG, which developed the business case, estimates another 12 to 14 mental health patients are cared for by family or make regular visits to the mental health unit at the hospital in George Town.

The consultant estimates an additional six to 14 patients in Northward Prison, straining staff with no training to work with inmates facing mental health problems.

The report states, “Northward Prison is housing offenders with serious mental health issues in an environment that is not suitable for these offenders.”

Cayman’s health system is “not equipped to deal with growing numbers of local patients suffering from mental illness,” the outline business case report notes.

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