Canadian firm signs deal for mental health facility

| 27/07/2017 | 37 Comments
Cayman News Service

Dr Marc Lockhart

(CNS): A Toronto-based architect has signed a deal with government to design the much needed mental health facility in East End, which has a target completion date of April 2019. But government has not disclosed the details of the contract or the tendering process. In response to CNS queries to government about the request for proposals, the other bidders and the price tag, officials said, “We won’t know the exact cost until the design is done, and part of this consultancy is to give us a firm cost for the design once we have it.”

According to a government release, the deal was signed Monday by the health ministry’s chief officer, Jennifer Ahearn; Alice Laing from the Canadian specialist firm, Montgomery Sisam Architects; and the Cayman Islands architectural and design firm, DDL Studio.  It was first reported by government that this was a design and build contract however, officials have since clarified that this deal is for the design only and there will be a separate tender process for the construction.

The project was approved by Cabinet last year after consultants KPMG published an outline business case recommending that government build and manage a facility, which they estimated would cost around $16 million to construct. The government has already identified 15 acres of crown land in East End near to the old prison farm and weather station in the High Rock area.

Dr Marc Lockhart, the government’s senior psychiatrist and chair of the Mental Health Commission, said it was “wonderful news” to see the contract signed.

“We have been working for many years to establish this much-needed facility to care for our mental health patients, who are among the most vulnerable in our community,” he said. Lockhart, who has been a long-time advocate of building the residential facility, added, “It is absolutely essential that we care for our mental health patients in the appropriate manner.”

It is no secret that Cayman is struggling to properly care for the many people with a range of mental health challenges. There is no long-term residential care facility here and some patients are sent overseas for treatment in Jamaica or the United States, while others, unable to get visas to travel because of criminal convictions, are treated in the eight-bed mental health unit at the Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town. However, the vast majority of people with mental health problems are in jail or cared for by family members, often under difficult circumstances.

Every week the courts are presented with defendants with serious mental health challenges who are self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. Many have been sucked into a life of crime because their conditions have been not been diagnosed or where they have they haven’t been properly treated.

For many years successive governments have recognised the need for a custom-designed facility but the cost of constructing and managing it has deterred previous administrations.

The project, which is now on track, will incorporate a central building and a series of nine small cottages, each of which can accommodate six patients. A main building and seven of the cottages will likely be developed in the initial phase of construction, and the rest will be built in the future as demand dictates.

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Category: development, Health, Local News, Mental Health

Comments (37)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    You can’t fix stupid.




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  2. Anonymous says:

    Did you know that gambling is also a mental disorder? Looks like we’ve got our first client, wouldn’t you say?




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  3. Casey says:

    one of the properties that salt water did not touch during hurricane Ivan and they are going to build a mental facility? Where is the long term planning? This is prime farm land that could sustain this country for a very long time. Why not place the much needed facility next to the prison and garner some synergies of having it there? Prison guards on site 24/7, CCTV, drones and easy mobilization of police and prison guards in the event when the trouble begins. Certainly no future planning from the powers to be.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Sound like a nice calm environment for someone suffering from mental disorders




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      • We need trade schools says:

        Was this put out to tender? There are a lot of local architecture firms in Cayman. Why was a Canadian company offerred the job? What is the cost of the drawings?




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  4. Anonymous says:

    I agree that mental facilities should be built, but building these cottages will cost more to supervise and run. For God sake please stop wasting unnecessarily funds. Why not build a nice dormitory style building with separate wings for male/ female accommodations, with a nice industrial kitchen, nice outside areas with the ability to grow their own food, raising of chickens etc. also please refrain from pushing down all the indigenous trees then having to buy imported trees for landscaping.




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  5. Anonymous says:

    Why cottages? Again SSDD!
    Same mess happened when they designed these schools – 16 scattered buildings instead of building one or two solid buildings.
    Good move to build facility but you must question why cottages? Someone please explain? If the answer is clinically based then fine but not for “cuteness” sake should cottages be built.




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    • Anonymous says:

      I suspect as it will feel less like an institution and more like a home…may be quite settling for some.




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  6. Anonymous says:

    Another progressive initiative?
    Remember what happens when certain progressives get involved… three large high schools that could have been 1/3 budget each( Beaulah Smith in west bay, Clifton, and John gray) of which you only now have 1.25 of a school out of the three if you think about it.
    A youth detention facility that never came to fruition just talk talk talk.
    So don’t get ahead of yourself bout “another progressive led initiative”. With praying hands I do hope this one was well thought out as to its location.




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  7. Anonymous says:

    The only area propping up the Cayman economy is construction, that’s why project after project is initiated but never finished. If and when these projects are finished, the Cayman economy will take a big hit as large numbers of construction workers are laid off.




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  8. Observer says:

    Can someone please tell me when this was advertised for Caymanian participation why can’t a local company build this???




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  9. Lindsay says:

    Placing a mental health facility in east end in a secluded area is not such a good idea. It needs to be close to a hospital and near to a police station. Has any of these patient have criminal records? How safe will it be for neighboring homes? Will the parameter be secured? Not certain if this is the best place for this facility. Has any consultation requested from people in the area and the concerns raised addressed? Last I recall, I girl was murdered up there by sane criminals under the surpervision of prison guards and her body was not found for days. We potentially have insane criminals we are now putting in an area that could place innocent people in danger.




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    • Anonymous says:

      The CI Govt has never seen a piece of forest that it didn’t want to flatten.




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    • Anonymous says:

      You think they don’t know what is needed? Don’t let your delusional paranoid fears get the better of you..otherwise those poor sick people will be left on the streets and more danger to you than they will ever be in such a place…What is it with the doubting Thomas on here? Everyone’s a freakin’ expert!




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  10. Jimbo says:

    I just hope it’s a big one, there’s one down the road with 200 locked in it




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  11. Anonymous says:

    Great news,

    I look forward to commenting on the news article in 2022 saying how they proudly completed this on time and at only double what they said it would initially cost.

    (That was a joke)

    Note the following examples:

    1. 3 “state of the art” high schools were meant to be built and finished by 2009. 8 years later and only 1 of them is complete (but still useless for our demographic), 1 is half way done (i think) and 1 hasn’t even broken ground (as far as I know).

    2. The cruise port is meant to be built to bring in more tourists into central George Town when our current infrastructure can hardly manage the amount we get in now on a semi-busy day.

    3. The LP highway expansion project was meant to be completed by December, 2016. Almost 8 months into 2017 and all we have is literally still 2 lanes, half of a roundabout and some dangerous turns. And at this rate even if I mistook December 2016 for December 2017 I’m pretty sure it still wont be done.

    Now this is all great but doesn’t it make more sense to actually finish things before taking on new projects?

    Is anyone else noting a trend here correlating with big, high classed building projects and completeness or lack thereof?

    Isn’t our money paying for this? Why is our government signing off on things that we have no clue about, usually never agree to, and never get completed anyway?

    Am I missing something here?




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    • Anonymous says:

      Of course you’re missing something. That’s government’s whole business model.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, the so called Vision 2008 initiative was conceived by a myopic, expat CIG official who thought they were in Dade County at the time.




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  12. Nutter says:

    7 cottages X 6 patients = 42.

    It will need expanding before construction is finished.




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  13. Anonymous says:

    When you remove the likely residents from the statistics, unemployment will be ever so close to 0%




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  14. Southsounder says:

    Great news, now we can permanently house half the government!




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  15. Sharkey says:

    That’s not very smart signing the contract before knowing the exact cost . Sound like a plan here but the Government is not in it . Why would you build a mental health facility of individual buildings and not into one building ?




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  16. Anonymous says:

    “A Toronto-based architect has signed a deal with government to build a much needed mental health facility in East End”

    Agree, great news! But, I think it is much more needed in West Bay.




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  17. Anonymous says:

    A facility similar to the size of the lions centre should prove adequate to house the thousands of mental health patients. 3,000 to be exact.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds like you are a good candidate for the mental facility. Would do you good to make your bookings now. Mental sickness is nothing to make fun of just wait until it hits home to your family. At least we had enough sane Caymanians to develop a good place for you to come scrape up dollars. Please put your name the next post so that I can sign you up first.




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  18. Anonymous says:

    I don’t believe it! It’s almost as though we are trying not be a third world country for once. Great news!




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    • Anonymous says:

      Another progressive initiative from the last Progressives led Government coming to fruition. Started under them and now moving forward under the new Progressives led Government. Page 14 of their 2013 Manifesto states the intent to construct a secure residential mental health facility. Another promise kept for the betterment of our islands. Well done Progressives.




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