South East St Mary health centre opens
RESIDENTS of Brainerd, Sue River, and adjoining communities in South East St Mary now have access to a new health centre, which was funded by the National Health Fund (NHF) at a cost $13 million.
The official reopening was held last Friday in Brainerd.
The centre is the last of 55 earmarked for improvement under the Ministry of Health's $300-million Health Sector Renewal Programme, which is also financed by the NHF.
The project, undertaken over the past four months, included refurbishment and expansion of the existing community centre, to accommodate the new facility. The works involved: construction of a roof and reinforced wall; upgrading of the sewerage disposal system; installation of electrical and plumbing fixtures; and overall refurbishing of the existing building and perimeter fencing.
The Brainerd health centre replaces the previous facility that was located at nearby Cane Heap, St Mary, which was destroyed by hurricane several years ago. This resulted in residents having to travel as far as 10 miles or more to access medical care at the Highgate health centre, in the parish or the Lawrence Tavern clinic in St Andrew.
The refurbished facility will accommodate both health and community centre until alternative arrangements for the latter are identified.
This joint arrangement, proposed by the residents, was agreed on following consultations involving representatives of the ministry, and the St Mary Parish Council, among other stakeholders.
In his remarks at the official opening ceremony, Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson commended the residents on their initiative in proposing the community centre for consideration to accommodate the health centre.
He urged them to ensure that the facility is protected.
"We must be careful to understand that we are going to protect this facility, because we can't build it and then damage it. Persons who are going to keep social activities here on the community centre side must recognise the joint arrangement. I appeal to the community and persons who will use these facilities, to use (them) wisely," he said.
Dr Ferguson pointed out that the new health centre "will bring greater (health) care provisions to the people of Brainerd, especially our children".
NHF Chief Executive Officer Everton Anderson, pointed out that facilities, such as the Brainerd Health Centre provide a vital
service to communities across the country.
As such, he said that the Government is ensuring that these facilities are improved.
"Now that this facility has been renovated, it is our expectation that more people will visit the health centre and obtain information and treatment they need to live a healthy life" he said.
Board chairman of the North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA), Leon Gordon, gave the assurance that the facility's staff is "very committed" to delivering quality medical care to the residents.
"I want to (also) assure you that we will continue to provide for you, the facilities to make you have good health care," Gordon said.