Risky rehab

Regional

Risky rehab

Hanover Health Dept threatens to close facility accommodating 68 residents at three locations

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer writer
editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

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CHIGWELL, Hanover — The Hanover Health Department is threatening to close a rehabilitation facility in the parish that is said to be operating below accepted standards and without the necessary approvals.

Chance Rehabilitation Centre was reportedly relocated from Green Pond in St James to three locations in Hanover — one in Rejoin, and two in Chigwell — just over two weeks ago.

Lucea Mayor Sheridan Samuels told last week's monthly general meeting of the Hanover Municipal Corporation that a total of 41 residents are in a two-bedroom house in Chigwell.

Neika Edram, the poor relief officer for the corporation, said 10 residents are also in an old shop in Chigwell, and 17 are on the ground floor of a three-storey building in Rejoin.

Councillor Devon Brown (JLP, Hopewell Division), who reportedly visited all three locations recently, told the meeting that what he saw during his visits was unpleasant.

“I personally went there to see what was happening, and it is really not a pleasant sight. We at the corporation were not notified of such a development, and henceforth this is a matter that the health department needs to take a serious look into now. The matter is of great concern,” Brown stressed.

Mayor Samuels, who is also chairman of the Hanover Municipal Corporation, questioned: “How did such a drug rehabilitation institution relocate from St James to Hanover without the notification of the authorities?”

Chief executive officer of the corporation, David Gardner, argued that the matter needs the collaboration of the health department, the police, and the planning and roads and works department of the corporation, adding that all the relevant notices must be served on the operator of the business and a timeline given.

The corporation, upon the request of Mayor Samuels, later passed a motion calling for all agencies involved to bring a “speedy resolution to the matter”.

Medical officer of health for Hanover, Dr Kaushal Singh, told the Jamaica Observer last Friday that the health department doesn't have any information on the centre's licence status. He said the same goes for the St James Health Department.

Dr Singh said the Hanover Health Department had launched an investigation into the matter, based on complaints from residents. He said the institution is operating far below the accepted of public health standard.

“So, they were advised to improve on it... so my team is going to follow up with the inspection, and from there, if they find that it is not up to mark and it is hazardous to citizens, or [a] public health nuisance, they will be immediately closed,” stated Dr Singh.

The Observer visited one of the three locations about 11:00 am on Saturday.

There, the two-bedroom house in the flood-prone community of Chigwell, appeared, from the outside, to be in good structural condition.

Hours later, a removal truck arrived with bedding and other furniture, then a route taxi arrived with what appeared to be toiletries, food, and medication.

The Observer was told by an individual there, who did not want to be named, that a truck transporting beds and other furniture to the house got stuck on a dirt road leading to the facility recently, due to heavy rainfall in the area.

That, he said, might have contributed to the delay being faced by the operator in having the facility “properly prepared”.

A caregiver, a security guard and a practical nurse were also present at the location.

Earlier, a man who said he is the owner of the property, told the Observer that the operator was out shopping and should be back soon. Up to 3:00 pm when the news team was about to leave the premises, the operator had not arrived.

However, late yesterday evening, the operator, Natalie Reid, who told the Observer that while there was a need for the institution to relocate, challenges were faced. She said the truck carrying the beds was stuck in the mud for three days.

“The problem is that the beds came in before the frames. More beds and frames came in on Saturday. So, we are trying to put things together day by day. It is a big process. It was a big move and everything was all over the place as we tried to move in the rain. We have taken the mattress off the ground and they [residents] are now on their beds like before,” explained Reid.

She said the issue is of concern to her. However, she said that the resident care centre is still trying to find somewhere suitable to house the residents.

“I don't blame anybody for the uproar about it. It was just an emergency situation… I am not going to rent anybody skyscraper for them to mash down the chandeliers and put me in problem,” argued Reid.

“What we need is somewhere for us to start building. Our vision is to have a two-man cabin where it is two persons to a facility,” added the executive director.

She admitted that while the centre is registered as a business, it is not registered with the health department because “I have not been able to please them for the last 12 years. It is like I am giving up.”


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