Health Minister details the breakdown of spending on Lefroy House – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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Health Minister details the breakdown of spending on Lefroy House

Only a fraction of the Government funds set aside to overhaul the ageing Lefroy House seniors facility has actually been spent, according to Health Minister Zane DeSilva.

Mr DeSilva gave a breakdown of spending in response to criticism from members of the One Bermuda Alliance.

It followed condemnation of the facility by OBA candidate Ray Charlton, who said he had not been permitted to photograph its deterioration during a recent tour of Lefroy House.

Opposition seniors spokeswoman Louise Jackson has also repeatedly questioned what became of the $19 million refurbishment fund since it was first set aside in 2007.

Yesterday, the Minister said $1 million in capital development funding was currently available for the refurbishment of Lefroy House.

Referring to “one of the OBA candidates has recently been making a lot of noise” about funding for the facility, Mr DeSilva said of the tour: “Nothing was hidden, and nothing was off limits. The candidate could see anything he wanted to see.”

In reply to Mr Charlton’s assertion that money reserved for its refurbishment had been “used for other purposes”, the Minister said: “He’s right. His indications are wrong.”

Mr DeSilva said $5.5 million had been budgeted for Lefroy House in the present financial year but that $1 million had to be diverted to the Lady Cubitt Compassionate Association to over overseas hospital treatment for Bermudians.

A further $2 million went to the Health Insurance Department, and $2.4 million was deferred.

“I have to be clear that the total funding approved by Parliament for the Lefroy House refurbishment project is $19 million but that $19 million has not been put into the budget in any one year,” Mr DeSilva said. “Each year, part of the funding is provided, and to date, between 2007 and now, we have only spent $1.5 of that $19 million.”

Government would “continue to work on the redevelopment of Lefroy House”, the Minister added.

“I have asked my technical team to provide me with a comparison of what can be accomplished by refurbishment against what could be done if we started from scratch.”

The statement drew a sharp response from both OBA members.

Mr Charlton said he had toured the facility on February 15, accompanied by his campaign assistant Nadia Hamza, Permanent Secretary Kevin Monkman, and Lefroy House administrator Rosheena Masters.

He said: “If that facility was in the UK or the US, I think it would be closed down for infractions. I’m not commenting on the staff. They are doing the best they can.”

Mr Charlton said he had been refused permission to photograph damaged floors and ceilings, and non-functioning equipment.

Speaking of a salon with an air conditioner marked out as out of order, the Sandys North candidate said: “The best word for it was pitiful.”

He continued: “They have not told us what’s been done with the rest of the money. Where has it gone?

“The impression I get is here we have Government again making promises of what they’re going to do, and they don’t have a history of what they have done.

“That facility has not been the same since 2003, when Fabian did the damage, and here we are nearly ten years later still talking about what’s going to be done.”

Said Ms Hamza: “A picture says a thousand words. If the Minister was happy with the refurbishment efforts, then why not enable the Bermudian public to see what they have done at Lefroy?”

Ms Hamza said the seniors home had holes in the first floor that showed down to the ground floor.

Nor was Ms Jackson mollified at receiving at Mr DeSilva’s accounting for the facility.

Insisting that seniors living at Lefroy House since 2003 have been exposed to “substandard conditions”, Ms Jackson said: “Minister Zane DeSilva in a statement admitted that funds have been diverted from Lefroy House to pay other bills they thought were more important.”

Ms Jackson said Government had “robbed Peter to pay Paul”.

“Since the allocation of $19 million five years ago, Lefroy House has sunk to a totally unsatisfactory level. Where is the Health Department? Where are the Health Inspectors?”

Retirement home Lefory House in Sandys ( Photo by Glenn Tucker )

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Published February 29, 2012 at 8:45 am (Updated February 29, 2012 at 8:46 am)

Health Minister details the breakdown of spending on Lefroy House

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