Wed | Dec 11, 2019

Shaggy’s foundation to clear air on funds for children’s hospital tomorrow

Published:Sunday | November 10, 2019 | 12:31 AMNadine Wilson-Harris - Staff Reporter
International artiste Orville ‘Shaggy’ Burrell (centre) puts his signature on a symbolic cheque for J$100 million on February 1, 2018, representing the proceeds from the biennial Shaggy and Friends Concert held on January 6 that year. Holding the cheque are Anthony Wood (left), CEO of the hospital, and Dr Michelle Ann Richards-Dawson.

The Shaggy Make a Difference Foundation has pledged to donate $100 million to the Bustamante Hospital for Children following the recent disclosure that the hospital had yet to benefit from the charity concert hosted by the artiste in January 2018 to aid the paediatric institution.

The Sunday Gleaner revealed last week that, despite handing over a symbolic cheque for $100 million nearly two years ago, international recording artiste Orville ‘Shaggy’ Burrell’s charity foundation had failed to deliver on a promise to purchase beds for the intensive care unit (ICU) at the hospital, which is the only one of its kind in the Caribbean. His wife and co-director for the foundation, Rebecca Burrell, as well as the hospital’s chairman, Kenneth Benjamin, confirmed that neither the money nor equipment had been handed over.

But in an advertisement posted the same day the story broke, the foundation declared that it has decided to partner with the National Health Fund (NHF), WIHCON and the Ministry of Health to help address the immediate needs of the institution.

“A commitment of $100,000,000 has been agreed upon to build and equip additional wards to accommodate patients’ needs, admission for special paediatric care as well as for children who require critical care,” the foundation stated in the advertisement which was carried in The Sunday Gleaner.

In giving the foundation’s reasons for not yet fulfilling the promise to help increase bed capacity in the ICU, Burrell had said the unit would first need to be expanded. She also stated that it was the foundation’s policy to give equipment and not money following Shaggy’s biennial concerts, which he started hosting in 2009.

“Our policy is, we purchase equipment for the hospital and, basically, we meet their needs list based on that. But we have never handed over actual funds,” she had told The Sunday Gleaner.

“It has just been a series of events that has delayed [us], some on our part, some on the part of the hospital, and how things are done down there. I don’t think there is any one person to blame. It is not a matter of it won’t be delivered. It will be, it is just a matter of when,” she had asserted.

The children’s hospital was the backdrop for the successful staging of the 2018 event, which was a star-studded affair held on the lawns of Jamaica House on January 6. Apart from ticket sales, several sponsors bought into the philanthropic entertainer’s vision to improve the hospital. The event also had the support of international artistes Sting, Wyclef Jean, and a number of home-grown talents.

The Sunday Gleaner has sought to ascertain whether the money being committed now is the proceeds from the 2018 concert; however, Mrs Burrell said on Thursday that a press conference is being planned for Monday to answer all queries.

Benjamin was unable to say when exactly the $100 million would be handed over to the hospital.

“Shaggy has made a commitment, so you should be hearing very shortly that he has handed over the cheque, which is of great, great benefit to Bustamante (hospital),” he said.

Benjamin said the money would be going towards the general expansion of the paediatric institution, which has been struggling to find space for beds.

“There is no space for any beds right now, because we have more people that are admitted now than ever before, so we need at least a 100-bed capacity right away, and there are some people who have come on board, not just Shaggy. WICHON is helping us with it, NHF is helping us with it and we are going to be very shortly putting up another building which can accommodate a minimum of 100 more beds,” he said.

Benjamin said an area has already been identified to facilitate the expansion of the hospital, which should be completed by next May.

nadine.wilson@gleanerjm.com