No truth to $2 million a month claim to assist CRH- Pastor Glen Samuels
Pastor Glen Samuels, president of the West Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, is rejecting claims that the church's offer of its Montego Bay-based facilities to house dislocated services from the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) is coming at a hefty cost to the Government.
In an interview with The Gleaner last week, Samuels rubbished reports that CRH may have to pay up to $2 million each month for the use of the conference grounds, to which several of the hospital's departments have been relocated since air-quality issues forced a shutdown of activities on the first three floors of the 400-bed hospital.
"You can quote me clearly that the West Jamaica Conference has not given the CRH one cent as a figure for them to pay monthly," said Samuels. "We will get to that, hopefully by the end of this week, when I will sit with them, but it will not be anything near that figure that is being bandied about. There is absolutely no truth to this statement of paying $2 million per month."
According to Samuels, the chief executive officer at CRH, Anthony Smikle, called him last week with regard to the matter of finances, but they are yet to come to any decision.
"The CEO at the hospital called me last week and I promised I would have put something on paper for him, but I have not had the opportunity to do that," said Samuels. "The health minister (Dr Christopher Tufton) said it is not intended that they would be using the facilities without paying because they understand that we do have expenses, and I told him I would sit down, hopefully before the end of this (last) week, to clarify those areas."
Samuels also noted that in previous discussions regarding the housing of the hospital's displaced departments, he had only expressed concerns about the payment of the conference's utility bills during the period of the hospital's occupancy.
"My consideration was that I would want them to be aware of the utility costs, and I said there are two ways to handle it: we could give them the JPS bill which we have been paying all along, and they can look at whatever the additional amount is and they could pay that, or if they want to attach a monthly amount (for payment) ..." said Samuels.
He said they have an idea of how much it would cost for electricity under normal circumstances and based on their assessment, they don't believe the additional load will result in any excessive amounts.
"When both of our auditoriums are used in the heaviest period, which is in December when we have camp meetings, the highest the utility bill comes to is a little over $800,000 per month," said Samuels. "Under normal circumstances when both are used, it ranges from $400,000 to a little over $500,000."
At present, approximately 400 patients receive various medical services on a daily basis at the conference grounds.