Smith’s appointment was confirmed before the House of Assembly (HOA) on Thursday, July 29. He is expected to serve in the capacity for a three-year term effective from July 15.
Fraser said while there are several BVIslanders capable of being the BVIHSA’s chairperson, he did not feel that the Health Minister was simply seeking someone to “chair the board”.
Fraser felt Smith was someone, based on his breadth of experience, who has something to offer the BVI internationally.
The veteran legislator said he thought Smith could use his American connections to create strong affiliations with US health services to improve the profile of the Dr D Orlando Smith Hospital.
“We have the facility,” Fraser said. “What we need now is the administration, the staffing, and the know-how to make our facility a number one.”
Fraser decried the existing level of service at the local hospital; suggesting that there needed to be certain adjustments, including ones that made the hospital’s systems more friendly. He said Smith is uniquely positioned to make these things happen.
The BVI, Fraser further reasoned, needs more networks, especially ones that allow its healthcare and education system to move and to grow.
“We have got to have that ability, to be able to send our people abroad, whether it’s for a short course or it’s for educational purposes on a long term – we have to be able to send them abroad. And the only way we’re going to do that is through networking,” Fraser said.
He added that the BVI needs to also be able to bring persons into the territory for healthcare improvements through networking as well.
“It need not cost you an arm and a leg to do these things,” Fraser stated.
He felt that even though the BVI is a territory, the United States should have programmes in place to accommodate it.
Fraser said Smith was coming in at a crucial time when the hospital is overtaxed and undermanned, even as staff continue to do their job.
According to Fraser, the BVI’s healthcare challenges are not simple, but the expectations are high.