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Castro Inaugurates Hospital Expansion

FL1611034588 Havana Television Service in Spanish 0100 GMT 16 Nov 88

[Speech by President Fidel Castro inaugurating expansion of Frank Pais
Orthopedic Hospital in Havana on 15 November--recorded]

[Text] I could say that this [words indistinct], and I don't say this is a
fatalistic sense, that I come here to inaugurate a construction project in
this hospital.  I say this is the last time because the hospital has been
finished.  I don't see much more space where expansions can continue.

The first construction project was the polyclinic.  I think it was in 1976.
Later there was construction on this hospital wing in this zone and other
projects.  I think this was in 1980.  Last year in December, the factory
next door was construction.  It manufactures prosthetic equipment--I think
that's what it's called--and orthopedic instruments.  Today we have
concluded the total remodeling and expansion of the hospital.

We planned to finish this year, maybe even ahead of schedule but we had a
serious problem with the theater.  The construction of the theater was
behind schedule.  The plans did not yet exist.  Besides this, we had to
acquire certain material for the theater.  It was necessary to ask for
assistance even from the ICAI [no further expansion given], yes the ICAI,
so that the construction of the theater could be accelerated.  The
construction of the theater threatened to last longer than the construction
of this project.  It threatened to delay this project.

All efforts were made... [changes thought].  It was the theater that indeed
did delay for several months, or a few weeks, the inauguration of the
hospital.  I said categorically that I would not inaugurate the expansion
until the last screw was in place in the theater.  It was necessary to
finish this project.

We are here among friends and guests.  Perhaps this is not the best place
to discuss our problems and difficulties or at least discuss them as freely
as we do among ourselves.  However, because of the confidence we have, we
need to say something.

It appeared that this hospital was never going to be finished.  This and
many other projects threatened to take forever because of ideas and errors
that we are overcoming.  We see construction as a continuous project that
cannot be held back.  It has to have all the necessary resources from the
beginning to the end.

Many of the people here are hospital directors from the capital,
secretaries of the PCC committees in each of those hospitals, leaders,
trade union secretaries, or people responsible for youths or nurses.  They
may remember that we met with them, in 1985 to analyze the subjective
problems of the hospitals.  We discussed what problems they had, and what
was needed to improve our medical services.  During that analysis with the
participation of the leaders of 55 hospitals, we saw that there were not
only subjective problems, there were also many objective problems.

While the revolution developed a great health program throughout the
country, a very fair thing to do, and constructed many hospital
installations throughout the length and width of the island beginning with
the mountains... [changes thought]

I'm looking at the sky because I see a very black cloud and we would not
like to receive our guests here with a great downpour. It seems likely to
happen.  If there is a meteorologist here he might be able to advise us on
this matter.

I was saying that we worked throughout the country on a convenient and just
project.  However, the capital was forgotten as far as hospital
construction was concerned.

As part of the obstacles that we were trying to overcome, we saw the fact
that hospitals often needed construction material for maintenance and this
helped us become aware of the situation.

From this profound analysis which lasted 2 days, we became convinced that a
special effort had to be made with the hospitals in the capital.  We had to
guarantee all the materials needed for maintenance with absolute priority
given to these projects.  We developed an ambitious construction program
that was indispensable.

Because of these problems, some hospitals lost some rooms.  It was
necessary to develop a program to recover all those rooms.  At the same
time, a global program was developed that provided an increase of no less
than 5,000 beds in Havana.

I think I'm seeing the first raindrops.  We should have held this ceremony
in the famous theater.  It might have been better. [laughs]

I mentioned a program of 5,000 new beds.  That program is practically
completed.  This program has been going on for awhile, since December 1987.
It includes the expansion, large expansions, of several hospitals.  It also
includes the completion of a new pediatric hospital and several
construction projects, dozens of them, in every hospital.  In a very short
time, an extraordinary change has occurred in the material conditions of
the hospitals in the capital.

Today we are inaugurating this hospital.  We are finishing the Miguel
Henriquez hospital, as well as the Albarran hospital, the new orthopedic
hospital.  Units and operating rooms--intensive care units and new
operating rooms--are being finished in the Salvador Allende hospital.  I
have mentioned only some of the principal projects.  There are many that
have been carried out in this short period of time and they will be
finished by the end of December.  It is possible that some will be delayed
until January.

We have gone from a situation where projects were never finished.  We have
shown in a spectacular way the value of the new concepts and the
rectification in the construction sector.  For example, the Miguel
Henriquez hospital, which is almost completed, has an enormous expansion
that has tripled the hospital's rooms.  It has been practically completed
in 1 year.

In 1987, more than 800 holes were dug with (Benoto) machinery to dig up the
gravel, the material needed.  The land is swampy around the port of Havana.
This is one of the characteristics of the land.  It was necessary to lay
stakes.  First it was necessary to get the space.  We had to relocate close
to 200 families to new homes.  Then we began digging.  This was in 1987.
Now in 1988, we have practically finished that enormous and valuable

I think we have demonstrated unequivocally the proper concepts with which
to approach construction tasks and this should always be the criteria for
these projects.

As I said, the first expansion of this hospital was done in 1976.  We built
the other expansion in 1980.  The expansion that remained to be built on
this hospital was delayed.  Noise was made here for almost 8 years.  Dust
and nuisances were also created.  Sometimes neither was produced because no
work was done.  There were many projects underway.  Under the old criteria,
the projects could take forever.

This was one of the situations we analyzed at that meeting.  We talked
about this hospital.  We firmly stated that if any project had to be
finished in a minimal amount of time, it is a hospital expansion.  It has
more reason to be finished as soon as possible, in record time if possible,
because all construction disturbs the work of a hospital.

We made a few calculations. One day I visited the hydrotherapy unit.  I
asked, how long has this hydrotherapy unit been under construction?  The
response was 7 years.

We also have to recognize our defects and not just discuss the good
things.  I think that the best thing is when we know how to rectify our

What is the percentage of the completion of this project, I asked.  The
response was that it was 30 percent completed.  I did some calculations and
at that rate they would finish the hydromassage or hydrotherapy unit in 21
years.  This is... [changes thought] I'm not going to say that all things
were exactly like this but this is an example of what many projects were

Of course the hydrotherapy unit was finished in record time.  Projects took
forever to finish because of certain plans, materials, lack of workers, bad
habits, old concepts, and mechanisms that did not work.

I think that we have acquired vast experience in these past 2 years and we
have been able to demonstrate certain truths.  With another focus, we can
achieve other results and I think that the results are spectacular.

I haven't mentioned quality in all this.  The projects not only took
forever to finish but the quality was also very deficient.  In reality,
from an economic point of view, it was ruinous to waste gravel, cement,
materials, labor, and machinery for 10 years and not have any practical
results.  As a result, the expansion plan was developed, this hospital
program for the capital, and the results can now be seen.

You don't know what a burden we removed from ourselves.  It's like we were
carrying one of those buildings on our backs.  We saw work constantly being
done on the hospital and it was never finished.  What a relief it is to
have finished the hospital and in record time with excellent quality.