Historical Overview

Grand Bahama Health Services is an institution of the Public Hospitals Authority located on the Island of Grand Bahama, the industrial capital of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.  It is a local healthcare system comprised of the Rand Memorial Hospital and ten (10) outlying Community Health Clinics.

Healthcare on the island of Grand Bahama started with only one doctor and two nurses who worked in a very small and primitive clinic. In 1949 Dr. Gottlieb was contracted from Switzerland to meet the medical needs of the Grand Bahama community.  In the absence of a Nurse, he was assisted by his wife Owanta and Lorraine Gibson Richards.  In 1951, Dr. Adolf Richter, a Polish native came to The Bahamas from Switzerland and was appointed District Medical Officer for Grand Bahama.  He resided in West End.  The first Government Clinic for the island of Grand Bahama was built in 1959 in West End.

The development of the Grand Bahama Clinic in the city of Freeport occurred in 1960 and was operated by the Port Authority as a private entity with a comparatively small clientele of mainly Port Authority employees and Freeport businessmen.  Native Trinidadian, Dr. Robert Antoni was the sole physician providing the service, assisted by two Nurses from Trinidad and Jamaica respectively.  Within the same year, James Rand, a Canadian industrialist, migrated to Grand Bahama and by 1962 he purchased the clinic to begin the Colonial Research Institute.  He and Dr. Antoni would meet and eventually the Colonial Research Institute took over the medical services from the Port Authority in 1962.  He retained the name Grand Bahama Clinic, and throughout the ensuing years, expanded the facility, increased the staff and provided additional modern equipment to accommodate the growing community.

Dr. John Clement had joined the medical team located in West End that now included Nurse Veronica Bevans Poitier.  In 1965 Dr. Clement provided monthly visits to the eastern end of Grand Bahama Island – i.e. to Freetown, High Rock, Pelican Point, McClean’s Town settlements, and Water Cay and Sweeting’s Cay - irregularly. In 1966 healthcare delivery was greatly enhanced when the Elmslie Memorial Health Centre (a maternity unit) was erected in West End serviced by Dr. Adolf Richter and Nurse Veronica Poitier.

Grand Bahama had begun to experience an increase in the population due to its industrial development.  An arrangement was therefore made between the Grand Bahama Port Authority and The Bahamas Government to construct a clinic in the Hawksbill community to provide medical services for the central area of Grand Bahama.  The clinic was opened in October 1967.  A clinic was later built in 1968 in the settlement of Eight Mile Rock and Dr. Campbell Moffat was engaged as the District Medical Officer.  He was joined by Nurse Helen Anderson who was already deployed in the West End Clinic.

While The Bahamas Government was facilitating the medical needs of east, central and west Grand Bahama, they were also undergoing negotiations with the Grand Bahama Port Authority for the acquisition of the Grand Bahama Clinic.  The private clinic at that time only offered admission privileges to the Freeport private physicians. The system for delivery of public healthcare services in Grand Bahama was the same as existed in every Family Island of The Bahamas; a network of community clinics, some with resident medical and nursing staff, others served by visiting healthcare professionals including a flying dentist service from the capital (Nassau, New Providence).  Freeport residents working in the Port area who were not insured and could not afford private services would access the national public healthcare system through the community health services. With government ownership, the hospital offered open access to all residents in Grand Bahama and maintained a private and public service, continuing the relationships with the private physicians who offered free or subsidized emergency and inpatient services.  In this vein The Bahamas Government successfully acquired the Grand Bahama Clinic in 1971 and renamed it Rand Memorial Hospital in honour of James Rand.

Once the hospital became publicly owned the demand for secondary level of care escalated.  For several months during the changeover period from a private to public hospital, the only government employed physician was Dr. Winston Campbell (presently an ENT Consultant with the Public Hospitals Authority at the Princess Margaret Hospital) who was assisted in providing coverage by the local private physicians, some of whom, Drs. Izabella Horsfall, Ronald Philip, and John Clement, still partner with us today.

In response to the need of advancement for the vision of continuity of care within the island and adjacent cays to strengthen the capacity for managing the health services locally and maximize the health resources on the island, Grand Bahama Health Services was instituted as a local healthcare system in 1985 under the leadership of Michaela M. Virgill Storr, Hospital Administrator.  This arrangement became the model of success under the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the development and administration of health systems and services throughout the region and internationally.