Dr Barrington Dixon was my schoolmate at Cornwall College in the 1960s. He was one year ahead of me and so he was my senior. Between the late 60s and late 70s I resided, worked and studied outside of Montego Bay. On my return, I soon learnt of two legends at the Cornwall Regional Hospital. One was Dr Kenneth "Ken" Baugh; the other Dr Barrington "Barry" Dixon, both Cornwallians.
The many babies delivered by that goodly doctor are too numerous to mention, and there are many grateful fathers as well as mothers out there who owe a debt of gratitude to Dr Dixon. That is why one of his close colleagues and friend, Dr Horace Chang, is quoted as saying at the death scene that the young man who fired that fatal shot may well have been delivered into this world by his hapless victim. As a consulting obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr Dixon, as one of his equally distinguished medical colleagues and schoolmates would say with much jocosity, "We guys work where you guys play!"
My last major encounter with Dr Dixon was when the Western Jamaica Medical Association staged an awards banquet at the Montego Bay Yacht Club. I was the guest speaker at that function, but little did I know that his tragic end was not too far away. He was honoured for his dedicated and unselfish service over several decades. In its citation, the professional body hailed him for having served the department with distinction, due not only to his superior skills as a doctor, but also to his unstinting dedication to the care of patients in his charge.
Dr Dixon, who was the longest-serving Senior Medical Officer at the Cornwall Regional Hospital from 1980 to 2007, mentored and guided many interns who were able to complete their residency. His department was the first at CRH to be accredited by the University of the West Indies to accommodate undergraduate and post-graduate training. After leaving CRH, Dr Dixon established the state-of-the-art Barnett Clinic which greatly enhanced the health-care services in western Jamaica.
Humble, unassuming, kind, soft-spoken and self-effacing, Dr Dixon also found time from his very busy schedule to be chairman of the board of governors of his alma mater Cornwall College. At 66 years old, he was in his prime and could have gone on to contribute many more years as a good and caring doctor. The shock being expressed by many who knew him tells the tale of a man who contributed all of his adult life to serving the people. "Never mash ants," as the man in the street would say.
The parish of St James in general and Montego Bay in particular have had a cycle of criminal violence over these many years. The peaks and troughs are often associated with organised crime and attempts by the state to deal with this social phenomenon. I have intimated from time to time that sporadic attempts to deal with crime in this parish will not yield meaningful results in the long run until there is a major socio-economic intervention that is sustainable. The current onslaught against the infamous lotto scam will leave a void whereby many of these youngsters, who are uneducated, unskilled and unemployable and who will no longer have large amounts of money at their behest, may well turn on the society in an act of revenge as well as to satisfy their numerous wants. Nature abhors a vacuum.
In the wake of this latest high-profile homicide, it is incumbent on the members of parliament, councillors, Justices of the Peace, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, in addition to other major stakeholders, to hold a crime summit involving the ministries of justice and national security, the police and the Jamaica Defence Force. Coming out of such a conference should be a plan of action to deal, once and for all in an effective way, with this problem, which will not go away simply by every now and then moving in and apprehending so-called kingpins and wiping out a few "friers". Crime is a cancer.
Hopefully, Dr Dixon's death will not be in vain if we act decisively and not make our reactions yet another nine-day wonder.
Lloyd B Smith is a member of parliament and deputy speaker of the House of Representatives. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the People's National Party or the Government of Jamaica.