Penn says projects mismanaged at BVIHSA; declines outside help
Health Minister Marlon Penn has lambasted the handling of the Road Town clinic project, arguing that it remains incomplete as a result of some glaring omissions.
The minister also listed mismanagement among the factors that caused the local clinic to remain unfinished and suggested that monies were squandered in the execution of the project.
Penn was at the time responding to questions in the House of Assembly (HOA) from former Health Minister and now Opposition member, Carvin Malone about a timetable for completion of the projects at the BVI Health Services Authority (BVIHSA).
The Health Minister said he was surprised to discover that other than a new lab location, some BVIHSA contracts did not include the full scope of works needed to make the facilities fully functional.
According to Penn, while the BVIHSA expects to bring a new laboratory space into operation by the end of this year, the same cannot be said for the new Road Town Clinic and specialty outpatient clearing facilities.
Penn told the HOA that work is still needed on a common lobby area and staircase and said this work is projected to cost more than $570,000.
Project was poorly planned
When Malone asked whether his successor was willing to solicit help from ‘friends’ of the BVIHSA to see the project to completion, Penn indicated that he was not inclined to do so.
“I don’t have a habit of asking friends for money when I squander mine,” Penn said. “I think the challenge was is that the project was poorly planned, poorly budgeted, and the money was poorly allocated.”
Penn further argued that the project went “way above and beyond the specifications” that were required for the clinics. “We have zero temperature rooms, zero negative pressure rooms where we didn’t need them. That drives the cost exponentially when we could have used that same money to do the lobby area and do the necessary changes to make it up to spec for accreditation,” he explained.
“So I won’t be asking friends for money to fix the mismanagement that was done on the initial part during the period of 2020-2021 when I wasn’t the minister,” Penn said.
Malone was the Health Minister between early 2019 and mid-2022.