Unfulfilled: New Clinical Centre becomes ‘clinical case’
We plan to build a major structure as the new block of the Clinical Centre in Skopje, the greatest infrastructure project in the field of health institutions. The new project will create an integrated whole with suitable work-flow, functional proximity and continuity in the provision of health services. The new building will house at least 25 clinics: Pulmonology Clinic adjoined to Tuberculosis Institute and Lung Disease Clinic, Nephrology Clinic, Dermatology Clinic, Cardiology Clinic, Neurology Clinic, Gastroenterology Clinic, Rheumatology Clinic, Toxicology Clinic, Haematology Clinic, Endocrinology Clinic, Eye Clinic, ENT Clinic, Radiology Clinic, Clinical Biochemistry, Transfusiology Institute, Pathology and Histopathology Institute, Pathophysiology and Nuclear Medicine Institute, Microbiology and Parasitology Institute, Hearing Speech and Voice Institute, Emergency Service (tertiary level), Clinical Pharmacy, Psychiatry Clinic, Traumatology Clinic, Orthopaedic Clinic, and Neurosurgery Clinic. Building activities will include construction of the clinical block, renovation of current surgery clinics and their integration with the new clinical block, as well as connections between OB/GYN and Oncology & Radiotherapy. [Deadline: 2014-18. Budget: €70 million]
The Clinical Centre in Skopje, or the transfer of most present-day university clinics from the Mother Theresa Clinical Centre to a new object, can metaphorically be pronounced a ‘clinical case’ and an unfulfilled promise by the governing VMRO-DPMNE and its Government, i.e. the Ministry of Health. This is certainly true of the giant gaping hole dug in early 2014 to mark the commencement of construction, the only progress made so far.
It is unclear why this investment has not got off the ground or why the estimates for the construction of the building increased severalfold, from the initial €50 million to the current €130 million, but the traces of the developments can still be followed.
If one looks at VMRO-DPMNE pre-election promises for the period 2006-10 and 2008-12, the idea is not there. The idea makes a brief appearance in the 2011-15 election programme (p. 234) in a different form, as “preparations for selection of a new Clinical Centre in Bardovci,” where most clinics from present-day Mother Theresa Clinical Centre would move by 2021.
In early 2012, then PM Nikola Gruevski first announces the idea of building a new clinical centre in place of the existing, without abandoning the idea to build a second one in Bardovci. This announcement puts the cost of the investment at €50 million. All is quiet until early 2013, when the idea is put forth once again, now at an advanced stage, with an Italian company working on the design concept and main project. The concept is presented in August that year, the investment is estimated at €70 million, and commencement is scheduled for 2014.
In early 2014, PM Gruevski is present at the construction commencement ceremony, when the decommissioned building of the old Gynaecology Clinic is torn down and a giant hole is dug for the new foundations.
The whole of 2015 is ‘spent’ on calls for demolition bids and the preparation of required documentation and the project falls behind 20 months. The end of 2015 sees a second Ministry of Health call for bids to prepare project documentation for the buildings’ demolition, while no progress is made in the construction of the parking garage servicing the new object. Publically, the project’s cost still hovers about €70 million. In the meantime, bits of information surface regarding the suspicious past of one board member of the Italian design company and, in the process of denying sections of the text, the Ministry admits that no construction contract was signed except for the initial project with the Italian company.
The object is to be built with funds from the budget and credit, but in early 2015 the Ministry refuses to reveal any details on the credit. By mid-2015, the daily newspaper Vest obtains the details which indicate that the investment has risen from €70 million to about €130 million! Asked by the newspaper to compare this to previous claims made by the minister, the Ministry of Health states:
The Minister’s statement regarding the projected cost of over €70 million refers only to the construction of the new object, as well as the new laboratory building to be adjoined to the new object. The remaining funds are designated for medical equipment, non-medical equipment and furniture, renovation of existing objects in the Clinical Centre, infrastructure, security, the design of the new object and the laboratory building, as well as the other objects included in the project.
Today, in 2016, there are no construction activities underway, although the new building should be completed by 2018 according to the party programme – or 2017, according to a promise made by the Minister in 2013. The last publically available information indicate that calls for bids regarding the completion of the project documentation are still announced or the designs for part of the project are still due. Having in mind that a complex object of over 60,000 m² will take several years before even the shell phase is completed (as conversations with expert engineers indicate) and the complex equipment will take at least another year to install, it is quite clear this is another unfulfilled promise, although looking at the hole dug in 2014 one could formally claim work is ‘in progress’.
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by Teo Blazhevski
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