Former PN leadership contender Frank Portelli has offered the government use of the former St Philip's Hospital as a facility to treat COVID-19 patients, but he has yet to receive feedback from the authorities.

The chair of the Foundation for Medical Services, Carmen Ciantar, when questioned, said all options were being considered.

St Philip's in Sta Venera, across Valley Road from Mater Dei Hospital, has been closed for a number of years.

Portelli said his offer was apolitical and purely to assist the health authorities in their fight against the virus.  

“This has nothing to do with politics. What we are doing is just offering our premises to the government to treat COVID-19 patients. All the government has to do is refurbish the place but there’s nothing in it for us,” Portelli said when contacted. “Keep patients before politics.”

He said he could not put a price tag on refurbishment costs because it all depended on whether the hospital would be refurbished to basic standards, to isolation standards or to intensive therapy standards. 

But the costs would be much less than what the government would be spending on the prefabricated hospital it is planning to build alongside Mater Dei, he said. 

The offer was made hours after Times of Malta revealed that the Foundation for Medical Services was seeking the 'purchase, delivery and installation' of a modular extendable prefabricated hospital which must be up and running within eight weeks. 

Wuhan in China, which was the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, built a similar prefabricated hospital for 1,000 patients in just nine days.

The Health Ministry is looking for offers for a fully-equipped hospital that can cater for 90 patients and staff. 

Portelli said he was offering the hospital building on the basis of a lease agreement reached in 2012 with the Gonzi government and never activated. The agreement would have to be adjusted on the basis of inflation and property values.

Refurbishment, he said could be completed in eight weeks initially to treat up to 120 patients with the possibility of an extension to 300 beds.  

Ms Ciantar told Television Malta on Tuesday that the site chosen for the new pre-fabricated hospital will be on the grounds of Malter Dei Hospital, making it logistically easy for nurses and doctors to see patients. Moreover, she said that once the crisis was over, the facility would be dismantled and stowed away to be used in case it is needed on another occasion. 

Since the crisis erupted the government has also been using the services of St Thomas hospital in Qormi.

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