Health centre opens on Maxfield Avenue

TANEISHA DAVIDSON, Observer staff reporter

Friday, April 21, 2006

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MORE than 15,000 residents in and around Maxfield Avenue are expected to benefit from the Partners Health Centre that opened in the community yesterday.

The health centre, located at the People's Church at 74 Maxfield Avenue, is a joint project of the Pat Francis Ministries in Toronto, Canada, and the church.

The 11,000 square feet facility includes three examination rooms and three bathrooms.

"I think it will be very good for everybody in the community," Vivene Gordon, a resident, told the Observer.

Evadney Ellis, another resident, said the clinic would give many people in the community access to affordable health care.

"It is very important for the community because a lot of people can't afford medical assistance," Ellis said. "It will be very helpful," she added.

Pauline Anderson, a member of the church, agreed. She noted that residents would no longer have to endure the hassle of travelling outside of the community to get health care.

Similarly, Bonnito Brown, counsellor for the Trench Town Division, which includes Maxfield Avenue, explained that people normally have to travel to the Slipe Road Comprehensive clinic or the clinic on Hagley Park Road for health care assistance.

"Now that they have a health centre here in the community, more people will be able to get help," Brown said. "I hope that they take care of it," he added.

The Partners Health Centre, which was renovated at a cost of $2 million, is the first of a series of health centres to be opened by the Canada-based organisation.

The centre will be open on Mondays and Fridays from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, and will cater to up to 30 people daily.
The medication will be free, but there is an administrative cost of $250.

According to Dr Pat Francis, founder of Pat Francis Ministries, the plan is to build at least fourteen more centres across the island.

"... Jesus wanted to take care of the poor. and that is why we have come as brothers and sisters from Canada to help to do whatever we can do to alleviate poverty and to bring peace to the poor," she said during the official opening.

"I. hope to start at least 14 to these centres, and then eventually in every community in Jamaica."

Dr Francis is known for her television programme, Washed by the word, which is aired across the continent.

Her organisation led a medical mission to Jamaica last year at Family Church on the Rock, where thousands of people were able to access free health care. The ministry recently donated $7.5 million worth of equipment to the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH).

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Omar Davies, who is Member of Parliament for the South St Andrew Division, expressed his gratitude for the establishment of the health centre and assured Dr Francis that the facilities would be properly utilised.

He also suggested that in addition to the health services that will be offered, there should also be an education component that focuses on healthy lifestyles to compliment the services.

"Build an education programme so that it is not just about the physical well-being... but also the mind," the finance minister urged.

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