A Toronto-based firm has signed a contract to design a long-term residential mental health facility in the Cayman Islands.
Currently, the only health facility at which people with mental health issues can be treated in-house is an eight-bed short-term unit at the Cayman Islands Hospital. Long-term patients are usually treated off-island in Jamaica or the United States.
The prospective facility, which will be funded and run by government, is expected to be located on a 15-acre site in the High Rock area of East End, according to a government press release. The land has already been set aside and approved by the Cabinet.
An outline business case commissioned by the government suggested that the project could cost up to $15 million, but precise costs are unknown until a “construction costs consultancy phase” is completed.
Groundbreaking is expected by the end of 2017, and the facility is projected to open by April of 2019, according to the government statement.
The project will be helmed by Montgomery Sisam Architects Inc., a firm that specializes in mental health facilities, in collaboration with Cayman firm DDL Studio, according to the release.
“I have known Caymanians, including family members, who have had to go overseas for treatment, so I am very excited about getting the facility designed, built and completed,” said Minister of Health Dwayne Seymour.
The new facility will be designed to incorporate a central building and a series of nine small cottages that can each accommodate six patients. A main building and seven cottages are expected to be developed in the initial phase of construction, and the rest will be built in the future according to demand.
With no existing long-term treatment center on island, people who require treatment and who cannot be transferred abroad because they are unable to obtain visas due to criminal convictions are treated at the Cayman Islands Hospital or in certain cases kept at Northward Prison, or are cared for by family members.
Psychiatrist Dr. Marc Lockhart, a longtime advocate of building a new residential facility, said, “It’s absolutely wonderful news to have the contract signed, as we have been working for many years to establish this much-needed facility to care for our mental health patients, who are among the most vulnerable in our community.
“It is absolutely essential that we care for our mental health patients in the appropriate manner, and I am very happy that we have reached the stage of designing and building the facility.”