BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large, Western Bureau email@example.com
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Patients at the Paediatric ward at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay are now benefitting from an education programme conducted in comfortable surroundings, thanks to the 'We Care Foundation.'
Through the instrumentality of the foundation which was launched in November 2011 to raise funds to undertake a raft of projects at the medical facility, educator Rackeal Ustanny — the hospital child education coordinator — has been assigned to run the programme.
"As the Hospital Child Education Coordinator, operating under the auspice of the 'We Care Foundation', one of my responsibilities includes administering age-appropriate educational activities to children admitted to the ward,"said Ustanny, a graduate of the Sam Sharpe Teachers' College in St James.
"As a result of my interaction with patients, a reading programme has been developed to help youths improve their reading skills."
She told the Observer West that under the initiative, the young patients — aged from birth to 12 years — are exposed to a collection of educational DVD's and instructional aides.
" These phonics DVD's contain blends, diaphragms, letter sounds.... in order to assist with reading," she explained.
But apart from the reading programme the educator has also made material available for patients who are studying the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) syllabus.
" During this programme GSAT level students are exposed a to a collection of DVD's and practice papers," she said, adding that "I have also created a curriculum -related instruction programme."
Ustanny who is committed to ensuring that children who are hospitalised for extended periods can carry on with their education, said through the collaborative efforts with the patients' parents and teachers, she is able to obtain and to continue the curriculum while they are hospitalised.
The experienced educator, whose monthly salary is paid by MegaMart, said a number of her classes are held in the Recreation Room located on the Paediatric ward.
The room was recently renovated by 'We Care' and outfitted with furniture and equipment at a cost of roughly $850,000.
The lobby area of the ward was also renovated.
The educator added that the feedback from parents and the patients have been very positive, noting that she loves to interact with the children.
And Acting CEO at the Cornwall Regional Hospital Anthony Smikle has lauded the 'We Care Foundation' for the initiative.
" It's very good project and we welcome it," said Smikle.
" What it really does is to assist in the healing process, and it allows the children to be educated, while they are away from school."
Meanwhile, Mega Mart on Tuesday handed over a cheque for $500,000 to board members of the 'We Care Foundation.'
The money represents point of sale donations by shoppers to the store's cashiers between May and December last year.
Speaking at the brief handing over ceremony , MegaMart's Store Manager Robert Wong said his company was very excited to partner with 'We Care,' in an effort to raise funds for the hospital.
He added that the company will continue to assist the charitable organisation as it seeks to improve the quality of health care at the medical facility.
" The hospital is always going to need help and so we are definitely going to continue because it is for a good cause," added Janice Meany, MegaMart's store manager.
And Director at 'We Care' Eleanor Millier has lauded Mega Mart for supporting the charitable organisation.
" I just want to commend Mr Gassan Azan (MegaMart's CEO) and his staff, especially the cashiers for their support," said Miller.