Goodbye 'chi chi'

Balaclava welcomes termite-free renovated health centre

Monday, January 15, 2018

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BALACLAVA, St Elizabeth — For many, including health workers and patients, the best aspect of the renovated Balaclava Health Centre is that it now has a concrete slab roof.

That's because the old, discarded wood-based roof provided a haven for termites.

“We got tired of 'chi chi' and duck ants, hopefully they won't be coming back,” one community health aid worker who declined to be named told the Jamaica Observer Central at the official opening of the newly renovated facility last month.

As explained by Councillor Everton Fisher (PNP - Balaclava Division), termites infested the old building for more than 20 years.

“In 2007 it was refurbished, and again in 2013 it was affected by termites,” Fisher said.

The CHASE Fund came to the rescue with a comprehensive renovation project which cost $14 million, according to Chairman Billy Heaven.

“We have replaced the entire roof. We have done sub-structure work, we have strengthened the walls from down below coming up. It is a good building now and a strong building,” said Heaven.

Crucially, as was pointed out more than once at the formal reopening of the renovated health centre, there is now the opportunity for another floor to be added once money becomes available for expansion.

The State-run Jamaica Information Service said the scope of the renovation work included replacing the timber roof with concrete; reinforcing the foundation to make it structurally sound; the addition of 400 square feet of office space; installation of concrete cupboards; and the laying of new tiles.

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton placed the project in the context of an overall drive to make health centres more accessible and customer friendly. It was an unfortunate fact, he said, that far too many Jamaicans had a “perception” that health centres provide an inferior service, compared to hospitals. Far too often, he said, health centres had lost “credibility” in the communities that they serve to the extent that “30 to 40 per cent of persons who go to hospitals… should rightly have been dealt with at community health centres”.

That would have to change in order to ease the overwhelming pressure on Jamaican hospitals, the health minister said.

The Balaclava Health Centre serves about 9,000 people annually in north-eastern St Elizabeth as well as communities in north-western Manchester and southern Trelawny, health care leaders say.

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