Dave Lindo, Gleaner Writer
THE COMMUNITY of Comfort in Manchester may be viewed by many in a negative light after experiencing frequent cases of violence in recent times. However, Morris Thomas and his family have looked beyond that and have attempted to improve the lives of residents of the community by building the Comfort Family Pharmacy and Medical Centre in the area.
The facility is run by Dane Thomas, a pharmacist and son of Morris, who bought the property and built the facility in the community where he grew up before relocating to Kingston.
"My father bought a house here in 2006. The plan was to build some apartments, but we saw the need for a health facility in the area," young Thomas said. "People in Comfort and surrounding areas have to go to Mandeville for that service. All the pharmacies and doctors were in Mandeville, so we made the conversion and built this facility."
Change community's image
He added: "It also helped with me being a pharmacist to create an ideal community medical centre. It provides easier access for people from the area instead of having to go to Mandeville every time. If you had an emergency, you can just come right here."
Thomas said the medical centre is helping to change the negative image of the community. "We believe that having something like this (medical centre) can change the whole cycle. It can change the place, the whole outlook of community," he said.
The facility was opened in April of this year. At present, it houses the pharmacy and three in-house doctors who work from Monday to Saturday.
The facility is also fully computer-ised and has a nurses' station, doctors' offices, and treatment rooms. Soon to be added is a medical lab.
"We offer home visits from the doctors, and I as the pharmacist do home delivery of medications and also counselling," Thomas said. "I practise the whole pharmaceutical care, which is making sure patients are complying with medication, taking medication as prescribed, and not taking anything else to counter what they are taking."
Thomas said he is pleased with how business in Comfort has been going. "It has been good, I must admit. People are more concerned about their health now," Thomas said.
He added: "They have become more health conscious. Normally, when you don't have something like this in your area, people would tend to wait out the sickness until they can't manage anymore. That's the time they run to the doctor. With the centre here, any little pain or complaint, they will get it checked out, so it helps a lot in that respect. It is helping to have a healthier community."
The Comfort Family Pharmacy and Medical Centre also provides jobs for people. One person in particular is Amoya-Gay Brown, a cashier at the facility, who is from the Comfort community.