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St Thomas Infirmary aims for best service standards


Jamaica Gleaner / Jamaican infirmaries have had their fair share of bad publicity over the years, with harsh criticism being levelled against the authorities for how residents are treated and the poor upkeep of the facilities that house them.

However, when The Gleaner news team entered the St Thomas infirmary unannounced recently, the lawns were well manicured and clean, and many of the residents were sitting on the porch relaxing, while others were in their dorms.

Employees at the facility were seen carrying out their duties, but the presence of our news team did not escape their attention as they responded to our query for an interview, directing us to the secretary manager of the ST Thomas Parish Council, Errol Greene.

Greene told The Gleaner that he also makes unannounced visits to the facility to ensure that the operations are up to a particular standard.

At least 74 persons call the infirmary home, with more males than females living at the facility. Mentally challenged persons are also taken care of at the infirmary, but Greene said this poses particular challenges for the staff.

He said that the staff at the infirmary works with health professionals to ensure that mentally ill persons are properly medicated.

However, despite the best efforts of the staff, a mentally ill resident, who is a former member of the army, is said to be posing a serious challenge to other residents.

“Right now, we have a guy who is a former soldier who hides when he knows he is to get his medication. He is very disruptive. We try to get him into Bellevue because he attacks other persons all the time, so the police have to come in and arrest him and take him out, but anywhere you take him, he finds his way back there, so we have a challenge in that regard,” Greene explained.

“We pay very close attention to the infirmary. It might not be a hundred per cent as it should be when you go there at any particular time, but I am satisfied that we have put things in place, and we have put a management structure in place to ensure that it is at acceptable standards.”

Since he became secretary manager, Greene said he has dramatically reduced the grocery bill at the infirmary, cutting it in half from the $1 million that was spent on feeding the residents.

In addition, the infirmary has embarked on an income-generating project in the form of a thriving chicken-rearing and egg-production facility.

With too few public buildings, including the Jamaican Parliament, creating access to members of the disabled community, steps are being made at the St Thomas infirmary to accommodate persons who have to use a wheelchair.

Rohan Bryan, councillor of the Morant Bay division, who is also the chairman of the Poor Relief Committee, which has responsibility for the infirmary, said residents get three meals a day and are housed in a clean environment. “I have been to several infirmaries and I can tell you that this one is ranked among the best.”

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