MONTEGO BAY — Ground was broken on Thursday (June 23) for the construction of a Matron’s Quarters at the St. Elizabeth Infirmary in Santa Cruz, at a cost of $7 .5 million.
The facility will cover an area of 920 square feet. It will comprise three bedrooms and feature concrete foundations, reinforced block walls, slab roofing, ceramic tiles and louvre windows. Construction will take six months starting Monday (June 27), and will be done by Tropical Metal Construction and Equipment Company.
Addressing the ground breaking ceremony, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, Department of Local Government, Hon Robert Montague, pointed out that there are approximately 1,500 residents in infirmaries islandwide, all with different needs.
“They (the infirmaries) were originally designed to house the elderly who have fallen upon hard times. But, the reality that we find today is that inside our infirmaries are the elderly, the mentally challenged, the physically challenged, some that have no challenge but have nowhere to go,” he stated.
He emphasized that the responsibility for caring for people has become a part of the whole Local Government Reform process, where the onus is placed on respective Parish Councils to demonstrate their caring side. He argued, however, that taking care of the poor is not the sole responsibility of the Government, but also the responsibility of the community and the society, as a whole.
He pointed out that because of the wide cross-section of persons now occupying infirmaries, the Department of Local Government has undertaken, through the Board of Supervision and in partnership with HEART/NTA, the training of persons in the fundamentals of Care-Giving. To date, 11 persons have benefitted from that training.
He said the Department is undertaking incremental improvements to all infirmaries.
By Bryan Miller, JIS Reporter