JIS News

The Ministry of Health, on May 28, continued its series of workshops geared at educating health professionals about the needs of persons with disabilities, at its Downtown Kingston offices.
Consultant Advisor on a special project for the disabled in the Ministry of Health, Floyd Morris, explained that the training health professionals are receiving through these workshops, will enable them to relate to persons with disabilities much better.
“We gave them a list of all the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) that provide the support services to Government institutions for persons with disabilities, and they were very much appreciative of that particular document. They have said they have seen clients come into the hospitals that need services outside of the health sector, but they just don’t know who or which institution to refer them to,” Mr. Morris said.
So far, three workshops have been held across the island targeting health professionals who have to relate to persons with disabilities on a daily basis.
“We are then going to step it up to the customer service representatives, where the Ministry is going to be training them in sign language, so that they can better communicate with deaf persons,” Mr. Morris said.
In addition, he explained that the Ministry’s Standards and Regulations Division has conducted an audit, to determine how best to improve service delivery to the disabled.
“The Ministry recognised that the systems were not in place to give that service to persons with disabilities. There is a plan that has been developed which covers a wide array of areas looking at access for the disabled, in terms of the physical building and communication, how is it that you communicate with persons with disabilities,” Mr. Morris said.
“It also looked at putting in place a mechanism to track persons with disabilities within the health sector and to also ensure that this mechanism gives the administrators data as to how to relate to, and prepare for these individuals. So, it is a comprehensive approach that the Ministry is adopting to improve the service to persons with disabilities,” he added.
Mr. Morris informed that, so far, the Ministry has been seeing some changes to those hospitals that have been audited.
Meanwhile, Quality Assurance Co-ordinator in the Standards and Regulations Division in the Ministry, Michelle Morgan-Evans, noted that the audit showed that the health sector has systems in place to assist the disabled.
“For example, access to bathrooms. Some of our hospitals do have accessible bathrooms. Also, for the person who is actually using a wheelchair, they will actually need to have independent use of a ramp and that is why it is so important,” Mrs. Morgan-Evans said.
“Also, some of our hospitals have put in new doors and they actually meet the standard, in that it’s of a certain width (0.9 metre or 1.5 metres) and they self close,” she added.
Mrs. Morgan-Evans further pointed out that the Ministry will continue to move forward in allowing better accessibility for the disabled at the country’s health care facilities.

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