San Pedro Polyclinic II to open in November

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 14, No. 24            July 15, 2004

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Lions and GOB officials sign MOU

Many local residents were present this week when history was made once again in San Pedro on Monday, July 12th. Those gathered at this momentous occasion witnessed the signing of the long-term lease agreement between the Government of Belize (GOB) and the San Pedro Lions Club. Also signed that day was the Civil Works contract between the GOB and Mr. Robert Usher from Usher Construction in Belize City, for the renovation/extension and completion of the San Pedro Lions Polyclinic II. Representing the GOB at this memorable event were Minister of Health and Communication, Hon. Vildo Marin, and Sue Courtenay from the Ministry of Health Project Management Unit.

    Acting as Master of Ceremonies was Lion Angel Nuņez, who referred to this day as a "historic momentous occasion" similar to the day when Caribeņa Cooperative Producers was established, the San Pedro High School was opened, and most recently, the inauguration of San Pedro Junior College. He continued by saying that the San Pedro Lions Polyclinic II would touch a lot of lives, as far as health is concerned. Following the Belize National Anthem, performed by Nathalie Arceo, and a short invocation by Lion Abel Guerrero Sr., Project Manager Sue Courtenay was called on to present the project overview.

    In her address, Ms. Courtenay stated, "With the signing of the civil works contract, the Ministry of Health and Communication will mark the first phase in these efforts to improve the infrastructure and the health services offered in San Pedro. This investment of $702,173 Belize dollars is funded by the Caribbean Development Bank as part of the Sector Restructuring Component of the broader Health Reform Project." Ms. Courtenay went on to say that "due to a combination of factors, including escalating construction costs, a saturated construction market, and an under-estimation of the scope of works and costs at the appraisal stage of the loan, this investment is two hundred and fifty percent higher than the budget for this facility. The civil works, scheduled to commence in August, is exhaustive, and includes the completion of the existing building, and the addition of a new second floor. With the new construction, the existing building will be expanded by an additional 2,500 square feet, making the building thirty percent larger. It is important to note that this facility is also approximately thirty percent larger than the Matron Roberts and Cleopatra White Polyclinic II. Due to the functional distance from the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, especially when considering emergencies and difficulties encountered with traveling at night, the San Pedro Lions Polyclinic II, will have enhanced observation, emergency and delivery capabilities. Residents of San Pedro Town can now look forward to having 24-hour access to emergency care. In November 2004, at the conclusion of this effort, this incomplete structure will open its doors as the new San Pedro Lions Polyclinic II, on par with private sector facilities."

    Next, Architect Javier Gutierrez briefly made a presentation of the plans for the new Polyclinic and invited those present to save their questions stating they would receive a more detailed presentation after the ceremony.

    In his address to the gathering, the "man behind this achievement," San Pedro Lions Club President Milo Paz Jr. stated, "When I took over the leadership role of the San Pedro Lions Club, I did not have the least idea or clue that our Club would be engaged in such a meaningful and humanitarian undertaking of this magnitude. I had the dream, like other presidents, of assisting the sick and those in distress and offering financial assistance to the needy. However, today I find the San Pedro Lions Club signing an agreement with the GOB to complete the Polyclinic II, or as we call it, San Pedro's first hospital. The Club embarked on this project some four years ago, and with the help of private contributors, coordinated mostly by Lion Ramon Nuņez, we have come this far. It is very fortunate for San Pedro and all of Ambergris Caye that the GOB has joined us in this venture to provide health services to our community."

    Minister of Health and Communication, Honorable Vildo Marin then addressed the gathering. He applauded the efforts of the San Pedro Lions Club for their vision of this project and commented that, with the GOB on board, he hopes that they can share a "long-lasting and fruitful agreement." He also mentioned that although a Polyclinic II will soon open on the island, that the best bet for a better way of life is prevention. He went on to say that everyone should try to live a healthy lifestyle. In closing, Minister Marin congratulated the Lions for their commitment to serving the less fortunate.

    It was then the moment that everyone anxiously awaited, the signing of the official documents binding the GOB and the San Pedro Lions Club, and the GOB and Usher Construction. Signing the long-term lease agreement between the GOB and the San Pedro Lions Club were SP Lions President Milo Paz Jr., Belize Lions 59 Zone Chairman Robert Lopez, Minister of Health and Communication, Hon. Vildo Marin, and Central Regional Health Manager Dr. Jose Lopez.

    Some key points in the Grant of Lease include that: The Lions agree to grant a lease of the Property to the Ministry of Health (MOH) (together with all buildings thereon and appurtenances thereto) for a term of fifty (50) years at a peppercorn rent of Ten Dollars Belize Currency (BZ$10.00) per annum, subject to the terms and conditions hereinafter set out and shall execute such further assurances as may be requisite to perfect the lease.

    The Lions and the MOH agree that after every ten (10) years during the term of this lease, they will jointly conduct a review of their respective compliance with the terms and spirit of this MOU and also of their cooperative relationship.

    Some key responsibilities of the MOH include to: Establish, convene and chair a Coordinating Committee which would serve as the permanent advisory body to the facility, comprising of seven (7) members as follows: two members nominated by the MOH, one of whom shall be the administrator of the facility, one member drawn from the Central Health Region, three members nominated by the Lions, and one member nominated by the San Pedro Town Council. The MOH assumes responsibility for medical and nursing staffing of the clinic and proper record keeping; Conduct routine maintenance (plumbing, electricity, air conditioning, cleaning and painting, etc.); Purchase the necessary equipment and supplies that will ensure a timely delivery of quality service; Maintain in place adequate fire and perils insurance for the building structure with loss, if any, payable to the Lions Club and MOH at a ratio of 50-50 respectively.

    Closing the ceremony was San Pedro Lions Queen Nicole Nuņez who graciously thanked Minister Vildo Marin for taking time out of his busy schedule to attend this important event in the lives of San Pedro residents. She also thanked the Belize Lions Zone Chairman Robert Lopez for his presence, and all the Lions and other patrons who have made this event possible. The gathering was then invited to enjoy some light snacks and refreshments.

    Work on the San Pedro Lions Polyclinic II began on Wednesday, July 14th, 2004 and is scheduled for completion in November. If this proves to be true, San Pedro Lion President-elect Nita Marin will have the distinct honor of cutting the ribbon of this new health care facility. Coincidentally, her husband, Lion Beto Marin, was the person who cut the ribbon of the San Pedro Lions Clinic, twenty-six years ago. The San Pedro Sun joins the community in saluting the San Pedro Lions Club and the Government of Belize for joining forces to provide much-needed health care services on this island.



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