Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton
Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton is doubling down on his decision to seek international expertise to complete rehabilitation of the problem-plagued Cornwall Regional Hospital.
Last year, Dr. Tufton was criticised for stating that local contractors did not have the skills needed to complete the project.
During Wednesday's Standing Finance Committee meeting, Dr. Tufton said his ministry would advertise internationally as it moves to engage a contractor in the upcoming financial year to complete the final phase of the project.
He defended the move, saying no local contractor has built a hospital in more than 30 years.
"It's not an apartment building. It is an extremely complicated environment that involves airflows and other issues around infection prevention and control and experience plays an important part in the management of the overall project. And I stand by that. I make no apologies for it," he declared.
In December, the Incorporated Masterbuilders Association of Jamaica rejected the health minister's assertion regarding a deficit in local expertise required to complete the Cornwall Regional Hospital.
$5 billion budget
Dr. Tufton said the cost of the Cornwall Regional Hospital project could exceed $5 billion.
The project will be completed under three phases. Phase one, which has been complete, cost about $784 million. The ongoing second phase cost $1.3 billion and phase three will account for the rest of the funds.
The health minister refrained from giving a timeline for completion, noting it will depend on the experts.