*File photo
*File photo

I have called this press conference today to clarify the media reports that have been published regarding my statements in the House of Assembly last week on the Continuing Care Unit (CCU) at KEMH.

The reports give the impression that the CCU will be closing in the very near future, but this is NOT the case.  Let me be clear on that matter, if the CCU closes, it will not be in the next few days, the next few weeks or even the next few months.  Any closure will be done over the course of at least two years.

It is important to note that before the CCU does close, the capacity of the private sector to accept CCU residents must first be assessed.  As a result, any transition of both residents and staff will take quite a bit of time.

What everyone should also keep in mind is that it’s not just seniors who reside at the CCU.  There are also young, disabled residents who will have to be accommodated.  Proper and acceptable residential facilities will have to be found for both the seniors and the young disabled – and the planning for this will not take days, weeks or months but literally years.

Although no formal timeframe has been set, we are looking at a minimum of two years down the road to complete any transition.

I understand that the staff at the Hospital (especially those who provide service at the CCU) are concerned that they will be out of work.  In this regard, I think it’s important to acknowledge and remind everyone that the BHB management has already included the Unions in discussions about the financial position of the BHB.

In addition, the vast majority of the CCU staff are Unionized, and their Union agreements set out the details of what has to be done if and when a service is discontinued.  I know that the BHB management team are entirely familiar with the Collective Agreements and will abide by their provisions.

As I conclude, let me say that there have been a lot of column inches used in the last two days about the Hospital.

While I and the Ministry are focused on the Hospital, we are also focused on the entire Bermuda Health System.

KEMH is Bermuda’s only acute care hospital, and the Board and the Hospital staff are focused on reviewing the core services provided by the Board and the Hospital.

Acute care is the number one service that the Hospital has to provide, but to make that service successful they have to partner with the rest of the Bermuda health system as well as overseas providers.

I am confident in the ability of the Board and the staff at the Hospital and I am certain that they have what it takes to weather this storm.

I will be there, beside them all the way.  We have to be successful, not just for the staff at the Hospital, but for everyone in Bermuda.

Finally, I’d like to reiterate that the CCU residents and staff will not be left to fend for themselves.  We will plan for their future and ensure that they are both prepared for that future and receive the assistance they need and deserve.

Thank you.