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Regional Director of the North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA), Fabia Lamm, speaks at the recent opening of additional facilities at the St. Ann’s Bay Health Centre in St. Ann.
Photo: Garwin Davis

Health officials in St. Ann have lauded the Ministry of Health for the effort to implement its Compassionate Care Programme in hospitals and clinics across the island.

The programme, which seeks to improve clinical services with an emphasis on customer care and service delivery in health facilities, has already been launched in four parishes and should be in place islandwide by March 2019.

Regional Director for the North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA), Fabia Lamm, tells JIS News that the St. Ann’s Bay Hospital has been, for some time, “the epitome” of compassionate care and that she is not the least bit surprised the facility has been chosen for one of the programme’s launches.

“Compassionate care is and has been alive and well here at the St. Ann’s Bay Hospital. Over the past two years or so, we have had significant work done to improve the infrastructure and overall aesthetical appeal at the hospital, where our patients and staff can be in a very comfortable environment,” she notes.

“It continues to be a work in progress. We have done extensive work at the outpatient department. We put in a 15-point central air unit, and a digital signage board, which gives members of the public messages to read and engage in while they wait for service,” Ms. Lamm adds.

She points out that the management of the NERHA has been following to “the very letter, the vision that has been laid out by Health Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, that we would be doing a disservice to healthcare if we didn’t have compassionate care,” she says.

The Compassionate Care Programme comprises several components, including the training of staff in customer service, improvement of basic infrastructure, and boosting voluntarism to aid the delivery of compassionate care.

There is also the recruitment and training of volunteers to assist in providing additional support in administering compassionate care to patients during the recovery process.

Ms. Lamm further notes that the St. Ann’s Bay Regional Hospital has earned accreditation status for undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, and is a training facility for both interns and nurses.

She adds that St. Ann’s Bay also serves as the regional hospital for the North East Regional Health Authority, one of the four regional authorities on the island. Patients, she says, travel from as far as Portland in the east, as well as from Manchester, Trelawny, Clarendon and St. James, for treatment.

“The hospital has also formed a very strong bond with a number of corporate and private entities, which have spent a considerable amount of resources to bring the facility to a level seen nowhere else on the island’s northern coast,” Ms. Lamm tells JIS News.

“Over the past several years, private organisations such as the Issa Trust Foundation and others have pumped millions of dollars into upgrading the facility, including a recent renovation to the hospital’s Paediatric Ward,” she notes.

For his part, Chairman of the hospital and Mayor of St. Ann’s Bay, Councillor Michael Belnavis, says that while the facility has been classified as Type B, “it has long been operating as Type A and has been a shining beacon for the region”.

“Our mission has always been to continually improve the facility, while reducing the waiting time for our visitors, and to provide quality care for our patients,” Mr. Belnavis tells JIS News.

In the meantime, Chairman of NERHA, Tyrone Robinson, says construction of additional space at the St. Ann’s Bay Health Centre will make it better able to facilitate the provision of services to patients and clients who normally go to the hospital for care.

He points out that the St. Ann’s Bay Hospital treats in excess of 3,000 patients at its accident and emergency outpatient department, many of whom can be cared for at the health centre and in a shorter time than at the hospital.

“Through the Ministry of Health, funding has been provided to each regional health authority to implement the necessary programmes to minimise the length of time patients have to wait before seeing a doctor,” Mr. Robinson explains.

“We are all about compassionate care here at NERHA… compassionate care for both our patients and staff. This has been our mantra and this we will continue to do to ensure that we fulfil our duties as public servants to the people of Jamaica,” he says.