Listen to the people on the ground – retiring medical chief
PORT MARIA, St Mary:
Having spent more than 14 years serving the people of St Mary, the medical officer in charge at Port Maria Hospital (PMH), Dr Maurice Sloley, is at present considering the benefits of retirement.
Sloley, who is on pre-retirement leave after 33 years working in the medical profession, plans to spend his new-found free time fishing and generally enjoying himself.
During his 15-year sojourn in St Mary, he helped develop the casualty department at Annotto Bay Hospital (ABH), and is particularly proud of the progress that has been made at PMH since his arrival in 2013.
Sloley told Rural Xpress: "When I came to PMH, it was like a glorified clinic, but now it's looking more like a hospital. I love Port Maria very much. I've made some great friends, and really enjoy the people of St Mary. We cuss and quarrel all the while, but they are good people, and I only wish the best for them.
"I want PMH to be as it once was, in terms of fame. In the 1950s and early 1960s, people used to travel from Kingston to PMH for surgery. It was a fantastic hospital because of the care."
He continued, "One of the things I can tell you about the staff at PMH is, they care. They may be miserable and t'ing, but if you stretch out your hand, they will not turn their back on you. There is great teamwork and the people have a love for what they're doing.
"We've created a great family that serves the community. We have differences of opinion all the while, but at the end of the day, in any crisis, we stand together."
Although Sloley spent the bulk of his time in the parish working at ABH, the veteran physician developed a strong rapport with the staff and patients at PMH, and believes the facility is ripe for redevelopment.
He explained: "I love an underdog, and PMH has been badly neglected, even though it's in a pivotal area serving northern St Catherine; eastern St Ann; and the tourist and industrial zones in central and western St Mary.
"Personally speaking, I think PMH is the ideal location for a trauma centre. The population of Port Maria 30 years ago was not even a quarter of what it is now, but the hospital has not changed, so meeting the needs of the people is a real challenge."
As Sloley prepares for a life of relaxation away from the health-care system, the friendly medic has a few words of advice for the executives he leaves behind at the Ministry of Health: "Listen to the men and women who work in the field, and do not take bureaucratic decisions without consulting the front-line soldiers. The men and women who face the crunch every day are the people who they should take advice from, rather than some university don who spends his days sitting in an ivory tower chatting pure crap."
He added, "When I ran into difficulties, I consulted my porters, nurses, ward assistants, and we sat down together and brainstormed ideas. These are the people who live in communities and know what's going on. They are the best people to advise and help me readjust and better prepare to meet the demand, and that is what has made us so successful over the last three years."