Sat | Jul 11, 2020

Seaforth struggles as workers give of their best

Published:Saturday | May 11, 2019 | 12:00 AMShanna Monteith/Gleaner Writer
The Seaforth Health centre
The waiting area at the Seaforth Health centre in St Thomas.
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If health is truly the real wealth, then most residents of Seaforth and surrounding communities in St Thomas, who are served by the Seaforth Health Centre, not only have to wait long hours to be divinely blessed, but may also have to stand outside under a tree while waiting.

The small facility, tucked away on Wyatt Road in the community, is the central health facility for the Trinityville Health District, which has approximately 30,000 residents.

It provides services such as oral health, dressing, family health, curative and environmental health, vector control and pharmacy services. the facility caters to in excess of 1,300 patients per month.

The Seaforth Health Centre is one of 100 such facilities across Jamaica which are available for adoption by interests in Jamaica and the diaspora, as the Government aims to improve service delivery and primary healthcare for the population.

Individuals, associations and businesses are being encouraged to come forward to assist through contacts with the Ministry of Health’s adopt- a-clinic programme.

Speaking with The Gleaner, acting parish manager for the St Thomas Health Department, Pauline Bryan-Ellington, admitted that the population has outgrown the clinic and that there is a massive shortage of space.

“The waiting area is too small and often patients must wait on the veranda or in the yard or across the road under the tree. This is worsened when it rains and all the patients try to fit into the health centre,” she said.

Bryan-Ellington also revealed that all the areas of service provision are hampered by the lack of space, especially dental, environmental health, health records and curative and family health. these areas she said, could also benefit from added equipment.

And though a security guard could be seen on-site during a recent Gleaner visit, the facility is not secured by a fence. This, according to the acting parish manager, permits the intrusion of the property by various animals, including goats and dogs that sleep on the premises.

However, Bryan-Ellington noted that despite the challenges, the administrative body tries its best to make do, noting that the facility recently received a facelift.

“The staff, led by Nurse Angella Taylor, public health nurse in charge, and supported by Onique Barclay, parish administrative officer, are motivated and enthusiastic about serving their clients,” she said.

In recent months, the health centre has been painted and they have been provided with new chairs for the waiting area, staff desks and chairs for some staff, and cabinets for the records area.

Bryan-Ellington said that the Seaforth Health Centre is making every effort to improve the quality of service to the public, in spite of its current needs.

She said that members of staff often go beyond the call of duty to ensure excellence in service, in an environment where there is serious space constraint at the facility.

Confirming the issues of space and intrusive animals faced by the local clinic, councillor for the Seaforth division, Joan Spencer, said that the health centre also faces issues of water shortage at times.

According to her, “ the clinic really needs to be looked at. It needs a proper water system. There are tanks, but at times they run out of water. I’ve had patients call to tell me there’s no water at the clinic and I’ve had to call trucks to deliver water there so doctors can do their work.”

Spencer also raised concerns over the size of the pharmacy that is available for the patients served by the clinic. “The pharmacy is inadequate. Most time they (the patients) can’t get their prescriptions filled there so they have to go elsewhere. It’s very small”, she said.

Added the councillor: “The clinic serves Seaforth, Whitehall, Middleton, Soho, Danvers Pen and other communities, so the size really needs to be reconsidered. Even some chairs are needed as it doesn’t look good to have old and sick people standing outside as they wait to see doctors.”