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POLITICS: no easy ride for first-timers!

Published:Sunday | February 1, 2015 | 12:00 AM



Parchment determined to rehabilitate Junction Health Centre in his first term

Daraine Luton

Senior Staff Reporter

With finance minister Dr Peter Phillips set to table the 2015-2016 Budget in the House of Representatives in weeks, members of parliament are anxiously waiting to see whether funding has been earmarked for projects they have identified in their constituencies.

Among them is Richard Parchment, the member of parliament for South East St Elizabeth, who says he was promised by Dr Fenton Ferguson, the health minister, that money will be provided for the completion of the maternity wing of a medical centre in Junction in the constituency. According to Parchment, at least $15 million is what will be required from the national purse.

Although built some 40 years ago, the maternity wing of the hospital, which occupies 1,800 square feet of space, was never furnished and put into service.

"As night follows day, I am going to get that up and running. I know of situations where pregnant mothers are rushing to go to several kilometres away to Mandeville to deliver their babies, and sometimes when they get to Spur Tree, they are having the child in the vehicle," said Parchment.

Businessman Winston Sinclair, who donated two motor cars and a motorbike in the 1970s to enable the construction of the medical complex, said he would want to see the maternity wing come to fruition in his lifetime.

Sinclair, a member of the People's National Party, who served as councillor for the Myersville division between 1997 and 2007, told The Sunday Gleaner that the bike, a Toyota Cressida, which he said was the first of its kind in the island, and a Ford Capri were raffled and the funds used to construct the facility.

"What I told the minister is that what we have set out to achieve for the people should come true. We have waited nearly 40 years for that," declared Sinclair.

The medical centre, the brain-child of former Member of Parliament Derrick Rochester, is a 6,000-square foot facility which sits on half acre of land and includes a doctor's cottage, maternity wing and dental offices.

"This is something that the people of South East St Elizabeth came together to do. I am going to complete it. It must be done and I am going to do it within my first term," said Parchment, who has now entered the fourth year of his five-year term as MP.

"I have another year or so left and this must be accomplished. The history of the Junction Health Centre, why I am so passionate about it, is that it was built by the sweat and blood of the people in South East St Elizabeth. The Government never provided any money towards the construction; we built it, and as member of parliament, I have a duty to ensure that the facility, which is rundown, is rehabilitated.


"We have been able to get $16 million through the National Health Fund and PetroCaribe Development Fund to significantly upgrade over there. We have redone the room, we have reinserted the dental section, and now more than 2,000 persons are seen there each month," Parchment said.

"The minister has been here, we have had several meetings and he has indicated that he could not do it in the 2014-15 budget but in the 2015-2016 budget it will be done, and as a member of parliament, it is going to give me tremendous joy and pride to see that facility completed. We built it and the Government must do the rest," he added.

Parchment points to the unfinished roof inside what should be the maternity wing at the medical centre in Junction.

Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer

Parchment (right) outside the partially done maternity wing at the medical centre in Junction.


I have another year or so left and this must be accomplished.