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University of The Bahamas Eyes Strategic Priorities in New Norm

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Dr. Rodney Smith, University of The Bahamas (UB) President

#Nassau, THE BAHAMAS – November 18, 2020 – The 2019-2020 academic year brought daunting challenges for University of The Bahamas (UB’s), but still senior administrators have touted some successes and set key priorities for the 2020-2021 academic year. 

The Fall 2020 semester has been marked by an increase in full-time enrolment and Family Island enrolment, an expansion of land assets, while new graduate programmes will be rolled out and the University community in Grand Bahama remains focused on rebuilding, senior administrators reported during the Media P.A.S.S. (Plan for Achieving Strategic Success) virtual event held recently. 

Dino Hernandez, Vice President of Institutional Advancement & Alumni Affairs

Chairman of the Board of Trustees Dr. K. Jonathan Rodgers noted that while UB has experienced a very tough period, it has shown that it is tough enough to handle any other challenges that may lie ahead. Dr. Rodgers said The Bahamas—particularly the northern islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco—had barely started to pick up the pieces from Hurricane Dorian when the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent economic recession struck. 

Like many other organizations, exploring and capitalizing on potential revenue generating measures is among the priorities. 

“We are contemplating a possible convocation center to be built on the Clarence Bain Building property,” said Dr. Rodgers. “We are also in talks with the government to create an economic zone around the university campus that will provide an income stream needed to support the future growth of the university.” 

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The Clarence A. Bain Building has been razed and the government recently gifted the land, on University Drive and Moss Road, to UB. 

Among the senior administrators who reported on their respective portfolios were President Dr. Rodney D. Smith; Vice President of Administrative Services Dr. Marcella Elliott-Ferguson; Vice President of University of The Bahamas-North Dr. Ian G. Strachan; Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Maria Oriakhi; and Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Alumni Affairs Mr. Dino Hernandez. Each enumerated the progress made over the 2019-2020 academic year and identified their strategic imperatives for the 2020-2021 year.  

President Smith attributed the achievement of recent milestones to a culture of collaboration and shared governance. He celebrated the contributions of faculty, staff, students and administrators as well as donors and other supporters of the University. 

“During this pandemic, both academic freedom and shared governance have been essential in UB’s ability to pivot and remain a functioning tertiary level institution. Essential to all of our success is the faculty and staff at UB who took on so many other duties and responsibilities,” said President Smith. “I thank them for being innovative in the use of technology, and working so enthusiastically with students, making sure that the high quality education for which UB is renowned, is delivered timely and accurately.”   

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A five-year Strategic Plan is guiding UB’s trajectory and among the goals are increasing student enrolment and graduation. Factors like the lingering effect of Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted student enrolment. 

Full-time enrolment has increased by 11.5 percent to 3,790 students; enrolment of Family Island students has increased; and the percentage of students pursuing undergraduate degree programmes rose by 2.8 percent for Fall 2020, according to VP of Administrative Services Dr. Marcella Elliott-Ferguson. UB’s current enrolment stands at 4,575 for New Providence and Grand Bahama. 

“Normally we would report separately on the UB-North campus and the main campus here in New Providence,” said Dr. Elliott-Ferguson. “This time around though, that did not appear to be an adequate measure, because what we found is that due to the virtual environment there were students who were registering both for courses at UB-North and courses in New Providence, no matter where they were.” 

VP of UB-North Dr. Ian Strachan also touted an increase in enrolment for Fall 2020 as a result of students being able to register and take classes online offered at either campus. 

“This year we have a higher enrolment than we have had in a very long time, 686 students enrolled in UB-North classes and the students are not all resident in Grand Bahama. Even in the midst of this crisis our ability to respond creatively and quickly, to migrate our classes online has made it possible for us to grow,” said Dr. Strachan. 

Dr. Mercella Elliot-Ferguson, Vice President of Administrative Services

Eight months into kicking its remote education into high gear, some 90% of UB’s courses are being delivered as virtual content. A few practicum classes are being held on campus with strict health protocols, according to VP of Academic Affairs Dr. Maria Oriakhi. By the end of the current academic year, the institution expects to roll out new graduate degree programmes including the very first doctoral degree. 

“Five graduate programmes were approved by the Academic Senate: MBA Accounting, MBA Events Management, MBA Hospitality Management, Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma in Public Administration, expected to begin Spring 2021. We also anticipate offering the Master and Doctorate by Research before the end of this academic year,” noted Dr. Oriakhi.  

In line with the strategic goal of increasing and diversifying revenue and funding sources, VP Institutional Advancement and Alumni Affairs Dino Hernandez revealed the highlights of private giving to UB from both national and international donors. He noted that there was a 148 percent increase in cumulative gift activity for 2019-2020 over 2018-2019. Additionally, between 4th September, 2019 and 30th September, 2020 UB’s Hurricane Dorian Relief and Recovery Fund secured $461,461.44 in cash, pledges, and in-kind donations for the rebuilding of UB-North. UB also has been fundraising for its COVID-19 Relief Fund. 

Dr. Maria Oriakhi, Vice President of Academic Affairs

“We never stop accepting gifts. There is still a great level of need. In this global pandemic we realized that our students are in desperate need of technology, not just limited to access to a laptop, or a desktop but also access to the Internet. So I encourage folks to go to our COVID-19 Relief Fund and give,” he said. 

Held under the theme “Accessing, Adapting and Advancing Higher Education in a New Norm”, the Media P.A.S.S. event is a platform to share UB’s achievements, and milestones for the 2019-2020 academic year and strategic priorities and projections for the current year.  

Magnetic Media is a Telly Award winning multi-media company specializing in creating compelling and socially uplifting TV and Radio broadcast programming as a means for advertising and public relations exposure for its clients.

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Prime Minister Davis: New US Embassy Compound represents ‘our commitment to mutually beneficial ties between our nations’

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Turks and Caicos Leaders attend official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony in Nassau, Bahamas

 

NASSAU, The Bahamas — Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis said, on June 28, 2024, that it was a “great honour” to join in celebration of the 248th anniversary of the United States’ Independence, and festivities of the New Embassy Compound Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony.

“On behalf of the Bahamian people, we wish the people of the USA a Happy Independence,” Prime Minister Davis said, during his Official Remarks at the event, held on the grounds of the new compound. “As we join you in celebrating 248 years of a successful and thriving democracy, I also extend a warm welcome to the new Chargé d’Affaires Kimberly Furnish and thank the U.S. Embassy for hosting this event, affording us this moment to celebrate with one another.”

He added: “This evening is particularly special as we gather to cut the ribbon for this beautiful new Embassy here in Downtown Nassau. This new building represents our commitment to mutually beneficial ties between our nations. It is a symbol of our enduring friendship as neighbours, as allies in pursuit of a better world, and as collaborators building a brighter and better future together.”

Among those present were Governor General of The Bahamas Her Excellency the Most Hon. Dame Cynthia Pratt; Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands her Excellency Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam; Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands the Hon. Charles Washington Misick; Minister of Foreign Affairs the Hon. Fred Mitchell; Hon. Mr. Chief Justice of The Bahamas Sir Ian Winder; Director of Intelligence and Information for North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command Brigadier General Maurizio D. Calabrese; and US Department of State Overseas Building Operations Principal Deputy Director J. Douglas Dykhouse.

Prime Minister Davis noted: “As we reflect on tonight’s theme, ‘Our Shared Future’, I am reminded of the countless ways our nations have supported each other over the years. Whether in the aftermath of our deepest tragedies or through collaborative efforts to protect our borders, the United States has always been a steadfast ally to The Bahamas.”

“When hurricanes ravaged our islands, leaving destruction and despair in their wake, the United States was there, providing vital aid, resources, and support,” he added. “I can’t help but think of the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, ‘The only way to have a friend is to be one’. The US has been a true friend to The Bahamas.”

“Moving forward, we will undoubtedly continue to maintain close ties – and not just diplomatic ties but social, cultural, and economic ties as well.”

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that many Bahamians visit the US on an annual basis – multiple times per year.

“And, if you were to add up all the US citizens who visit The Bahamas each year, you’d get a number that is far greater than our population,” he said. “Our nations are truly intertwined.”

“I am genuinely excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for the US and The Bahamas,” Prime Minister Davis added. “As we deepen our friendship, we must ensure that we maintain strategic alliances on key issues to protect our interests.”

Prime Minister Davis noted that both nations faced similar issues in immigration and border control, and they also were both preparing for more extreme weather events due to worsening climate conditions. Those, he stated, were just two of the areas where they had the opportunity to work together for the common good.

“One of the most important and sacred aspects of our relationship is our shared commitment to democracy, freedom, and human rights,” Prime Minister Davis said. “These values are the bedrock of our societies, guiding our actions and shaping our futures. Together, we must continue to champion these principles, both within our borders and on the global stage.”

He added: “As we celebrate this milestone, let us also take a moment to reflect on the future we envision for our nations – a future where our collaboration leads to greater prosperity, security, and well-being for our citizens. A future where our shared values and goals continue to guide us toward a more just and equitable world.

“Together, we can achieve great things and ensure a prosperous future for both our nations.

“Thank you, and once again, Happy Independence.”

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GB’s ‘Welcome Home’ Grand Expo – July 3-10

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FREEPORT, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas – The Ministry for Grand Bahama has scheduled a week of activities from July 3 to 10, to encourage residents to come back home, said Minister for Grand Bahama the Hon. Ginger Moxey said during a press conference on Friday, July 28 at the Harold DeGregory Building.

Being held under the theme, “Welcoming Home GB” there are a variety of events to not only ensure the week is fun-filled, but also entertaining.

Having previously stated that Grand Bahama is on the move, Minister Moxey said that not only are there approximately $2 billion in investments on the island, but new businesses are also opening.

“We want to encourage our people to take advantage of the opportunities that are here, but we also recognize that Grand Bahama had a population of about 55,000 to 60,000 people and it’s now down to about 47,000.”

For those who live elsewhere whether in The Bahamas or other countries, there will be a week of activities to encourage residents to come home to celebrate the resilience of Grand Bahama, as well as the country’s 51st Independence celebrations.

The events are as follows: Wednesday, July 3, Fish Fry in Smith’s Point; Thursday, July 4, Goombay Summer Festival at Taino Beach; Friday, July 5, an expo on the Great Lawn at the Grand Lucayan Resort where the many opportunities will be on display, as well as an Old School Reunion that evening also at the Grand Lucayan; on Saturday, July 6, the Grand Road Race and Cultural Festival in downtown Freeport; Sunday, July 7, ’50 & Beyond’ Praise and Thanksgiving Service at Jubilee Cathedral and The West End Move; Monday, July 8, Gia Pierre’s play, “March On: The Story of Us”; Tuesday, July 9, ’50 and Beyond’ Ecumenical Service and Cultural Show at Independence Park; and the week of activities will culminate with a Family Beach Day on Wednesday, July 10, Independence Day.

 

(BIS Photo)

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PHA CELEBRATES 25 YEARS OF HEALTHCARE PROGRESS

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#TheBahamas, July 2, 2024 – The establishment of the Public Hospitals Authority in 1999, following an act of Parliament one year earlier, represented a revolutionary milestone in the delivery of healthcare for The Bahamas.  Today, the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) looks noticeably different than the Authority of 1999, when we were first established. Our hospital facilities are more modern; with 21st century medical technology accessible to every patient across our network of hospitals and agencies, and a cadre of clinical and allied health staff who are better trained and equipped.

We credit our exponential growth to a management philosophy that balances productivity, efficiency and accountability with prudent growth strategies that have allowed us to remain at the forefront of healthcare not only in The Bahamas, but in the region. As the Public Hospitals Authority in The Bahamas marks its 25th anniversary, it’s a time to reflect on the remarkable journey of progress and development in the healthcare sector over the past quarter-century. Established with a mission to enhance healthcare services and improve public health outcomes, the Authority has overcome numerous challenges and achieved significant milestones in its pursuit of excellence.

Challenges and Milestones

Ground Breaking Ceremony Freeport Health Campus May 2023

In its inaugural year, the Public Hospitals Authority faced a myriad of challenges, including the development and strengthening of clinical services aligned with national health programs, resolving administrative dilemmas, establishing itself as a corporate entity, and enhancing its operational procedures and policies. Identifying key areas of concern such as the shortage of qualified personnel, inadequacies in infrastructure, technology, and equipment, the Authority embarked on a journey of transformation and innovation.

Over the years the PHA has weather significant challenges including the global economic downturn and its impacts beginning in 2008, the historic destruction of hurricane Dorian and most recently the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, one of the most complex health challenges the world has ever faced.  These historic challenges were experienced by our public hospital institutions against a backdrop of longstanding constraints in resources, manpower and mitigating against aging health infrastructure and shortages in equipment.

We have emerged from these crises stronger and more responsive with lessons learned.

Strategic Initiatives

Over the years, strategic initiatives have been implemented to address these challenges and drive progress in healthcare delivery. These initiatives include enhancing planning mechanisms, strengthening information systems, improving management functions, financial systems, allied health skills, patient experience and quality improvement programs and strengthening security measures to ensure a safe and secure environment for patients and staff.

Advancements in Patient Care

Significant advancements have been made in patient care, across all our public hospitals. 25 years of PHA management has seen advances in Health Information Systems to support hospital services and patient care, new outpatient ophthalmology, family medicine, rehabilitation therapy, and Blood Bank services for PMH, extensive upgrades to the Pharmacies, Morgues, Operating Theatres and Emergency Departments at Princess Margaret Hospital and the Rand Memorial Hospital, including the most recent capital project to modernize and expand PMH emergency rooms for paediatric and adult patients and the trauma bay.

Major advances have been made in the expansion of Intensive Care services at PMH and the Rand including the PMH Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and its step-down Unit, the Special Care Baby Unit providing specialized care for newborns.

The millennium saw the introduction of neurodevelopment services, complemented by services within the NICU which has helped reduce risk factors for neurodevelopmental delays in low-birthweight infants.

The PHA prioritised the introduction of a Patient Relations program in 1997 at the Princess Margaret Hospital.  This program has been expanded with a cohort of newly engaged Patient Relations Officers graduating from a specially developed training program in 2022.

In recognition of the longstanding dearth of healthcare professionals within our system, further exacerbated by the pandemic, the Authority maintains a mutually beneficial recruitment arrangement with global health partners, most notably, the Republic of Cuba.

Enhancing Emergency Medical Services

Improvements in emergency medical services have been a priority, with the development of criteria for the registration and licensing of Emergency Medical Technicians. The National Emergency Medical Services has focused on training personnel in advanced cardiac life support and prehospital care to meet international standards.

With the establishment of the PHA Academy in 2022, the training of EMTs to be deployed in New Providence and across the Family Islands has been accelerated. The PHA continues to work with the Ministry of Health & Wellness to ensure the recruitment, training and equipping of EMTs and paramedics to meet the needs of all Bahamians.

Trib photo Ribbon Cutting of Critical Care Block 2014

Pharmaceutical and Medical/Surgical Supplies

Under the management of the PHA, the Bahamas National Drug Agency made strides in automating pharmacy management systems and updating the drug formulary to include essential medications.  The Material Management Directorate also implemented modern information systems to manage the procurement and inventory of essential hospital and clinic supplies for the PHA and Department of Public Health.

In 2016 the PHA consolidated the Bahamas National Drug Agency and the Material Management Directorate into the PHA’s Supplies Management Agency with responsibility for supply chain management of pharmaceuticals and medical/surgical supplies.  The agency occupied a fully renovated building at 51 Shirley Street with modern office spaces and warehouse facilities.  In 2022, the PHA facilitated the procurement of a larger facility on Nassau Street which serves as the new home of the Supplies Management Agency positioning this essential agency to meet the needs of our public health system for decades to come.

Expanding Mental Health Services

Mental health care has also been a focal point, with the establishment of the Community Counselling and Assessment Centre and increased support for the Crisis Centre, offering a range of services from counselling to advocacy.

In 2013 the PHA took the lead in The Bahamas’ implementation of the innovative global initiative in mental health with the World Health Organisation’s mhGAP (Mental Health Gap Action Program). Eighty-three (83) primary care doctors, nurses, and mental health professionals from the Ministry of Health, the Department of Public Health and Public Hospitals Authority adapted the mhGAP guidelines to The Bahamas health system. Primary care physicians and nurses were then trained to use the adapted guidelines, facilitating increased access to mental health services for patients accessing primary care in community clinics.

The Community Counselling and Assessment Centre was eventually relocated from its Market Street location to a fully refurbished building on Collins Ave improving conditions for both patients and staff.

Infrastructure Development

Infrastructure enhancements at our facilities have been monumental, with a comprehensive infrastructural redevelopment study leading to the Master Site Development Plan(s) for our public hospitals.

Major renovations to critical areas like the Intensive Care Unit, Operating Theatres, Surgical Recovery Room, Morgues and Burns Unit have improved patient care and facility operations significantly at the Princess Margaret Hospital and Rand Memorial Hospital.

Highlights of major capital projects completed include the construction of the Child & Adolescent, Robert Smith Special Education Complex at Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, which has expanded the institution’s footprint and allowed for the improvement and repurposing of decanted spaces.   The refurbishment of Wards at the Geriatric Hospital and Sandilands Hospital as well as at outbuildings utilized as clinical and therapeutic spaces have improved the conditions for clients and staff.

The construction of the Critical Care Block at Princess Margaret Hospital represented at that time the Government’s largest investment in health infrastructure in over half a century.  The initiative was born out of the realization that societal conditions and changing demographics required the PHA to respond to the growing need for additional surgical theatres and critical care beds. This state-ofthe-art facility boasts:

  • 6 Operating Rooms
  • 1 Endoscopy Procedure Room

-18 Pre Op/PACU Beds

-20 Intensive Care Unit Beds

-62 Bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (level IIl)

  • Central Sterile Supplies Department
  • Medical Surgical Supplies Department
  • Core Laboratory
  • Meditation Area and Healing Garden

In Grand Bahama, extensive restoration works were undertaken at the Rand Memorial Hospital following Hurricane Dorian which devastated health infrastructure on the island.  Working with local and international partners community clinics and the Rand Memorial Hospital underwent extensive capital projects culminating in the recommissioning of the hospital on 23rd April 2021 with the following new spaces:

  • Complete renovation of the Front Entry Space, Pharmacy Operations, and the Lula Knowles Pediatrics Ward
  • Construction of a New Corridor to access the Medical/Surgical Ward and Healing Garden Space, along with the restoration of other main arteries of the hospital

    Ribbon Cutting at SRC Child & Adolescent Robert Smith Complex

  • Restoration of the existing Operating Theatres
  • Construction of a new 40’ Container size modular Operating Theatre Pre-Op & Procedure Room incorporated into the footprint of The Rand hospital to meet the current service needs, while awaiting the construction of a new replacement facility
  • Restoration of Inpatient ICU, Medical and Surgical Bed Spaces in the Medical/Surgical and Critical Care blocks
  • Construction of new, fully commissioned, 2,800 sq. ft. Infectious Disease Unit with seven (7) isolation spaces in response to the existing COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Completion of an upgraded Commercial Kitchen/Cafeteria Facility with a dining area
  • Demolition of the Administration and Obstetrics & Maternity Wings

Freeport Health Campus

More recently, the Ministry of Health & Wellness in collaboration with the Public Hospitals Authority held a Groundbreaking Ceremony on 16th May, 2023 for the new Freeport Health Campus in Grand Bahama. The $210 million Health Campus that will be constructed in three phases at the site off East Sunrise Highway near the Lucayan roundabout. The first phase is planned as a dedicated primary, outpatient, and urgent care centre.

The second phase will be an in-patient surgery and acute care facility providing quality care for patients with severe or urgent conditions or injuries, or patients recovering from surgery, and the final phase of the project will be the construction of medical/surgical clinical and support areas.

Future Directions

Looking ahead, the Public Hospitals Authority remains committed to advancing healthcare services in The Bahamas. With plans for new public hospital facilities in New Providence, ongoing infrastructural upgrades at existing facilities, and a continued focus on quality improvement and patient-centred care, the Authority is poised to build on its successes and further elevate the standard of healthcare delivery in the nation.  Corporate and individual citizens wishing to partner with us on this journey to improve healthcare with The Bahamas are invited to connect with our newly established PHA Foundation to learn more or get involved.

As the Public Hospitals Authority celebrates its 25th anniversary, it stands as a beacon of progress and innovation in the healthcare landscape of The Bahamas, embodying a legacy of excellence and dedication to serving the public health needs of the community.

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