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Compassionate health care in Black River

Monday, October 22, 2018

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Black River, St Elizabeth — Elderly, chronically ill and confined to a wheelchair, Beryl Edwards is a regular visitor to the accident and emergency outpatient department at the Black River Hospital.

She seemed as well placed as any to give an opinion on recent efforts to improve the aesthetics of the hospital's waiting areas.

“It nice man,” she said, in response to questions regarding infrastructural improvements which form part of a Compassionate Care Programme at the hospital.

That seemed to be the consensus among others who sat with Edwards in air-conditioned comfort, waiting to be seen by health care specialists.

The Ministry of Health said renovation work at the Black River Hospital's Accident and Emergency Department included enhancement of the aesthetics to include murals with health messages, refurbished bathrooms, installation of air conditioning and the placement of a television set which seeks to innovatively display health messages

Other components of the compassionate care programme involve staff training in customer care and efforts to improve volunteerism. In the latter case locals are being urged to give assistance in care giving under supervision from health care staff.

The compassionate care programme forms part of what health minister Christopher Tufton says is an “important part of the overall response to public health…”

Tufton has repeatedly argued that good customer care and compassionate behaviour by health staff towards their patients is essential to the success of health care at Jamaica's hospitals and health centres.

In Black River, Tufton also called for the recruitment of “an army of volunteers to engage and support the processes of public health”.

Health ministry consultant Dr Stephanie Reid, who played a lead role in the training programme at Black River, said it was aimed at minimising the “human factors that may mitigate against the effectiveness of care…”

There should be empathy so that the patient has confidence in the caregiver and also good two-way communication, which will allow the patient to understand the messages coming from the caregiver.

“Communication must be such that the patient understands…,” said Reid.

— Garfield Myers/JIS /Ministry of Health

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