Tamara Bailey, Gleaner Writer
Lyn Kennedy McKenzie had no idea she would start a health-care home in Jamaica. With so many detours, she had no plans of being where she is today.
"In my earlier years, I worked as a pre-trained teacher at Frankfield Primary in south Manchester before moving to England.
"I did midwifery and health visiting, which is an arm of public health. I was responsible for children zero to five years old, getting them ready for school and teaching parents how to get them checked."
Kennedy McKenzie did this from 1969 until 1985 when she left nursing, changed course, and became a sales manager for Wolrdbook Childcraft International, a publisher in Chicago.
"Though the benefits in nursing were great, race played a heavy card, but covertly done," said Kennedy Mckenzie
She further stated: "I had to validate my existence every day, and so the race issue in England brought on this steel persona. I resigned from nursing and went into sales, and this I did for 15 years."
After making yet another detour to complete her master's degree in history, she then started her doctoral degree. She said she was asked by the late Rex Nettleford to do her dissertation in Mocco, Clarendon, and finish her PhD in Jamaica. That's when she moved back home, but due to constraints, she did not go to the University of the West Indies to teach and study as had been planned, but ended up taking care of her mother, aunt, and daughter, and in her words, "became a nurse again".
It was an encounter at the bank one morning that would soon see the creation of Ken Health Care.
"I was sitting in the bank when this lady came in and sat hard on the bench beside me and said, 'I wish I had somebody to take care of me.' It was at that moment I heard myself say, 'Let me take care of you'. On August 17, 2006, Ken Health Care was born."
Located in the cool hills of Knockpatrick in Manchester is the palatial, clean, and spacious health-care home, Ken Health Care (KHC). The rich environment and an atmosphere conducive to rehabilitation are just two of the reasons why it is the health-care home of choice for quite a few residents and workers alike.
"It's a great experience! In comparison to other nursing homes, the food here is exceptional, very nutritious, and the love and respect for the residents is evident," said Nadia Williams, a nurse at the home.
"Ken Health Care is here to cater holistically to each individual as our mantra is 'Caring for the individual one heart at a time'. People need to feel valued, valuable, and loved. They're not dead until their dead," said Kennedy McKenzie.
Apart from the standard facilities and offerings of a health-care home, Ken Health Care also boasts massage therapy; music therapy; touch-and-tell therapy, especially for those who are visually impaired and suffering from dementia; and evening worship, featuring tamborines and drums. The home has frequent visits from a physiotherapist, phlebotomists, dentists, doctors, social workers and nutrition students at Northern Caribbean University, and a masseuse who comes in each Thursday and Friday.
"We take pride in the food we give our patients. We don't insult the body with food. We think of food as remedial, and everything we use is fresh produce from our own garden or local farmers," Kennedy McKenzie stated.
The home has approximately 14 residents and 13 nurses who are fully trained. Currently, nine of the 13 nurses are furthering their education.
"We don't want to go over 25 residents here. We want to maintain a certain environment, and we are even putting in place a section for relatives who are coming from far and need to stay the night."
The home that was initially developed to house 11 can now house 19 residents. With a March completion date for the projected completion of the current refurbishing, the facility will be able to house up to 25 residents.