Residents help reopen clinic after 14 years

Swift River Health Centre resumes partial services next month

BY EVERARD OWEN Observer writer

Monday, March 16, 2015

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THE Swift River Health Centre which has been closed for 14 years will soon resume operation offering some services to the community once per month, according to parish manager at Portland Health Services Dr Isaac Brown.


The health facility, which served more that 4,500 residents, was forced to close its doors in 2001 after the community was severely flooded.


Since then, the centre has only been utilised occasionally by the Dr David Keene-led overseas medical mission Caribbean American Educational Organisation, which comprises a group of health care professionals and medical students from Florida State University.


Dr Brown, who was speaking at the medical mission's annual health fair last Tuesday, said there will be a re-initiation of maternal and child health services every second Thursday of the month, beginning on April 9. The specific services will include antenatal and postnatal care, family planning, pap smear, immunisation, and the monitoring of the growth and development of infants.


" The closure of this facility significantly affected access to primary health care by the people of Swift River and at least 10 other districts such as Shirley Castle, New Eden, Old Eden, Chelsea, Spring Field, Ythanside, Guatemala, Bloomfield, Bellevue and McCain. Persons have to travel several miles from these districts to Hope Bay and elsewhere to seek primary health care," Dr Brown said.


He pointed to the community spirit which made it possible for the reopening of the centre, citing the determination of 87-year-old Methilda 'Miss Metty' Blake, who led the committee which restored the centre.


" They sought help from individuals and groups throughout the Diaspora as well as embarked on fund raising events. The response has been very positive; hence, help came during the time of greatest need," he said. Blake was presented with a plaque in recognition of her dedication and commitment to getting the health centre reopened.


The Portland Health Department, he noted, also worked with this committee to paint the building, purchase and install awnings, reconnect the electricity and water supplies, and to procure items such as a refrigerator, couch, filing cabinet, wheelchair, doors, windows and toilet bowls.


"Today we are witnessing the power of inter-sectarian collaboration and community participation being unfolded before our very eyes. It goes to show that if we unite and come together as a people, we can do great things," he said


Dr Brown said the residents request for a medical clinic for the community is currently being examined.


Member of Parliament for Portland West Daryl Vaz commended the health ministry for resuming primary health care in the area, and the committee members for their persistence in not waiting on Government to get the clinic up and running.


"This is a monumental occasion after the hard work done by Miss Metty. So important is the work Miss Metty has done and such a shining example of what community leadership and communities are about -- Communities that do not wait on Government to do anything but communities that come together from humble beginnings and pool their resources together, even if it is not monetary it is human resources," Vaz said.


The MP said he is proposing that the centre be named in Blake's honour.


Blake who celebrated her 87th birthday on March 8, expressed joy at the plans to reopen the clinic.


"I am very happy as persons have responded very well making donation in cash and furniture to furnish the place, and besides what I use, I still bank $150,000 and still waiting for more to come in. I feel very fine, fine. It is here for the children, parents and everyone because when I am gone mi naw carry it wi mi" she said.


  

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