Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
OCHO RIOS, St Ann:
HUNDREDS OF residents in St Ann turned out at the Turtle River Park in Ocho Rios last Saturday as the St Ann's Bay Regional Hospital brought free health care to the people of the parish.
Held under the theme 'Living 50 Years and Beyond: Filling the Gap', the fair offered many services such as ECG (heart tests), pap smear, blood pressure and blood sugar checks, HIV tests, eye screening and dental services. A dengue-prevention session was also on the programme.
Personnel from the Red Cross, St John's Ambulance, the Registrar General's Department, the Jamaica Cancer Society and the National Health Fund were also present to offer information and services where necessary.
"We have personnel from medical and surgical care, medical doctors, Dr Morris, an ophthalmologist, who is giving his service for free. We have public-health nurses doing pap smear, and we also have the Heart Institute of the Caribbean, they volunteered to offer free ECG," said Tracy-Ann Williams, the registered nurse who was behind the staging of the health fair.
Williams added: "We're trying to reach out to the public, trying to educate persons and advise them as much as we can in areas such as follow-up treatment at the health centre after discharge."
FOLLOW-UP IS KEY
According to Williams, follow-up treatment is becoming a concern as a lot of patients who have been discharged from the hospital sometimes end up back at the institution in a matter of days.
"We've seen where most of the persons we have admitted at the hospital on a daily basis, they are admitted and sometimes re-admitted within two days, five days or a week after discharge," Williams explained. "So we're trying our best to reach out to the people as best as possible. In a gathering like this, we can reach out to them on a one-to-one basis."
The turnout was larger than expected, and way past the planned 4 p.m. cut-off time, dozens of persons were still waiting to receive service.
One resident, Beverley Brown of Priory, was happy that the fair was held as it afforded her an opportunity to get some checks done.
"It was good. I got an HIV test and a blood-pressure check. I'm glad for it. We welcome it because it's really a good move," Brown told The Gleaner.
The health fair was actually slated to be held earlier this year as part of the hospital's scientific conference, but had to be pushed back. However, Williams said come next year, both events will coincide. She hailed the health fair as a success.
Among the sponsors of the fair were Caribbean Producers Jamaica , Island Dairy, Morgan's Restaurant, Hayden's Restaurant, Brown's Town Community College, All Signs, Guardian Life, Polka Dot Limited and, Sun Island Ltd.