Jamaica Gleaner / ANNOTTO BAY, St Mary:
Staff at Annotto Bay Hospital (ABH) in St Mary celebrated yesterday after receiving a $2.5-million cash boost, thanks to a donation made by a group of third-year medical students from the University of the West Indies.
According to the Smoker Group’s assistant sponsorship chairperson for 2015, Abigail Allen, the gift to the hospital is part of a long-standing tradition whereby students create a theatre production and donate the funds raised from the show to a health care facility of their choice.
After a brief handing over ceremony at the hospital recently, Allen told Rural Xpress : “Smoker is a tradition that, unfortunately, began when medical students used to smoke as a break from the stress of medical school. It grew into people telling jokes, and eventually progressed into a theatrical production, which is put on annually.
“Today, we’re donating the proceeds of the play, $2.5 million to ABH. Members of our class came here to do electives (placements) and special study modules, which are voluntary hours, and because of the warm reception we received, the great experience and hospitality from the staff, and the fact we were able to learn so much, we thought this would be the perfect place to give back.
“We are training medical practitioners and therefore know the needs and struggles the health system faces, because we’re in it. Seeing the need here, and the fact that this is an annual thing and we know we can generate significant funds, we just wanted to fill the need.”
Senior medical officer at ABH Dr Ray Fraser was clearly moved by the donation, which will be used to purchase an industrial dryer and renovate the drivers’ quarters.
He said: “I have mixed feelings about this donation, but am very happy from several perspectives. The hospital benefits from donations, and one of the reasons we have reached so far is a consequence of many donations from different alliances, groups, and organisations that have helped us over many years, especially in the days when we were really short on supplies and equipment.
“Also, I’m happy from the point of view that this donation has been given by a group of young doctors in training who, separate and apart from studying, think they should be involved and make social and community donations.
“I think it’s good for their morale, development, and spirit as human beings; and it bodes well for the country to have these sorts of individuals, and I’m happy for that.They say this project took them about three years. That’s a whole heap of work, so we have to commend them because $2.5 million is not chicken feeds in these times.”