Local Government and Community Development Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says access to the island’s 16 infirmaries and golden age home is restricted, effective immediately, as part of containment activities related to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
A 30-day restriction on receiving new clients into these facilities is also to be implemented.
The Minister, who was speaking at a special meeting to discuss the response of the Ministry, agencies and municipal corporations to COVID-19 on Friday (March 13) at the Ministry in Kingston, said the Ministry is coordinating its activities with the Ministry of Health and Wellness to implement containment measures.
Mr. McKenzie said isolation facilities at each infirmary and golden age home are to be established.
“We are taking measures to safeguard the over 2,500 residents and staff at these facilities. The restriction on visits to infirmaries is critical and the necessary precautionary measures will be put in place to ensure the safety of all. We are dealing with a population of persons who fall in the category of persons most vulnerable to this disease,” he said.
Additionally, he said isolation areas will be established at each infirmary.
“Some infirmaries already have these facilities of that nature, but for those that do not have isolation facilities, we will commence construction immediately, working with the Ministry of Health and Wellness on the guidelines for establishing these facilities,” the Minister said.
Mr. McKenzie said renovation of the May Pen infirmary and the Vineyard Town Golden Age Home will be undertaken to provide additional facilities to house an estimated 133 social cases in the public hospitals.
“Between the Vineyard Town Golden Age Home and the May Pen infirmary, about 45 to 50 bed spaces can be provided. Those facilities need minor work and the funding will be made immediately to undertake the repair work to make these facilities available to these cases coming out of the hospitals,” he said.
Additional support is to be provided by the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB).
The JDF will provide sanitation support for the infirmaries and golden age homes. Meanwhile, the JFB will be providing ambulance services in underserved parishes. These are Trelawny, St. James, Hanover, Westmoreland and St. Catherine.
Mr. McKenzie said private contractors are being engaged to provide this service to the remaining parishes.
“We are cognisant of the challenges that the persons in our infirmaries face and, therefore, the Ministry will endeavour to provide all the medical facilities that will be required,” he added.
Temporary employment for daily sanitation activities at the targeted facilities is to be implemented. Training of frontline staff in infirmaries and golden age homes is to be undertaken.
The island’s four drop-in facilities will also be equipped with the necessary medical equipment to provide care for homeless and mentally ill persons.