New Facility for Social Cases Officially Opened - St. Catherine Infirmary Premises
Just over a year since the ground breaking in September 2017, the new facility to house some (26) social cases from the Spanish Town Hospital is finally complete and was on Friday, October 05 officially opened on the premises of the St. Catherine Infirmary in Spanish Town. Built at a cost of over 12 Million Dollars ($12M) the building which will be partitioned inside to house male and female residents has a kitchen, male and female restrooms and an administrative office.
Funding for the project was provided through the Ministry of Health’s National Health Fund (NHF) - total of $4 million, in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development and both Ministers were present to observe the momentous opening ceremony.
Addressing the opening, Spanish Town’s Mayor and St. Catherine Municipal Corporation’s Chairman, Councillor Norman Scott told the gathering that having a facility in St. Catherine with a satisfying and comfortable environment to take some of the pressure off the obviously over crowded Spanish Town Hospital was a dream becoming a reality and it was a historic and proud moment. He said the building’s completion would not have been possible without the collaborative efforts of the Ministries of Health, Local Government and Community Deveoplment, staff members of the St. Catherine Municipal Corporation, Jamaica Public Service Company, Food for the Poor (Jamaica), Holt’s Hardware, Spanish Town, Clive Black Hardware and Berger Paints. “I express heartfelt thanks to everyone, however, it would be remiss of me to not single out Minister McKenzie whom when called upon at any given time, never turned his back”, Mayor Scott said.
Minister of Health, Dr. Christopher Tufton in his remark said a project of this nature was truly a significant step forward and he was happy to have contributed to making it a reality. He said our infirmaries represent an important part of social welfare and we have to look out for those in our society who cannot afford to make it for one reason or another and would be dependent on the state to provide support. “It was on that premise, when the Corporation reached out, I could not have hesitated to jumping on board”, he said. Referencing St. Catherine Infirmary’s Mission Statement ‘we have to be our brother’s keeper’, he said there are several reasons why some people end up in an infirmary or as a social case at a hospital, but central to that is that family members have abandoned them and as a Ministry, we will continue to give the necessary support.
Speaking also at the opening, Mr. Dwayne Francis, Chief Executive Officer, Spanish Town Hospital said the opening of the facility was timely, it came at a time when the Spanish Town Hospital is undergoing a severe challenge with overcrowding and this new facility will help to alleviate some of the challenges. He said the social cases are in various sections of the hospital and this collaboration with the Infirmary should see significant improvements in admission rates. He on behalf of the South Eastern Regional Health Authority, Staff members of the Spanish
Town Hospital, Sponsors and all other parties involved extended thanks for the collaborative effort.
In his main address, Local Government and Community Development Minister, Desmond McKenzie said having learnt that there were persons living in hospitals across the region who did not have anywhere to go, a project of this nature was the second of its kind in the country, the first was introduced in Trelawny. It is the hope of the government, that by the end of this fiscal year at least two more will be completed in other parishes, he said. In a bid to heighten the skill levels of all persons employed in facilities, the Minister said a training programme for persons employed to infirmaries will be instituted across the island. Once this training is done, an evaluation of all these persons employed will also be done.
He commended Mayor Scott and the St. Catherine Municipal Corporation’s team, for having not sat and depended solely on the Ministries of Local Government and Health to fund the project, but instead ventured out to garner all the support possible to cover certain grounds.
While plans are afoot to spend some ($400M) on Infirmaries across the island, the Minister said St. Catherine Infirmary is one of the most outstanding in the country and he had to extend commendation to Mayor Scott and the staff on the attractiveness of the surroundings when he visited sometime ago. He said many of the persons whom these spaces are being provided for at this new facility use to pay taxes and contributed to the growth of the country. Some have fallen on hard times, not because of any fault of theirs. None of us know our fate or where we are going to be tomorrow and we must always be mindful of that, and so he joined with Mayor Scott, Councillors and members of staff by standing proud to welcome this fresh facility for our fellow brothers and sisters.
Also at the ceremony, gifts which included flat screen televisions, sheets, pillows, diapers, soaps, socks and shoes were donated by one Petrine Matthews who hails from a prominent community in Spanish Town and presently owns and run a private charity. She said she found favour in doing this act of kindness because persons tend always to highlight the bad in Spanish town, and not the good.
The ceremony concluded with Local Government Minister Mckenzie, Health Minister Tufton and Mayor of Spanish Town, Councillor Norman Scott, symbolically snipping the ribbon to officially open the building. Also assisting were Portmore’s Mayor, Leon Thomas, Jamaica Public Service Company Customer Service Senior Vice President Ramsay McDonald and Chairman of the Corporation’s Poor Relief Committee Keisha Lewis.
The tour of the building immediately followed.
Custos Rotolorum of St. Catherine, Hon. Jeffery McKenzie, Board of Supervision’s Tricha Lewis, St. Catherine Chamber of Commerce’s President Dennis Robothom, Jamaica Public Service’s Project Manager, Ian Buchanan and several Councillors were among the specially invited guests present at the ceremony.