Operator of illegal health facility sentenced
Fifty-one-year-old Natalie Reid, operator of the Chances Rehabilitation Centre in Hanover, is to pay a fine of $150,000 or spend one month in prison at hard labour for operating a nursing home without the requisite licences.
Reid, who was sentenced in the Hanover Parish Court on Friday, has been given two weeks with one surety to pay the fine or end up in prison.
Judge C. Barnett Plunkett handed down the sentence in the Sandy Bay Court after legal action was taken against Reid by the Hanover Health Department in April, after several months of unsuccessfully trying to get her to adhere to health requirements.
The rehabilitation centre had also been issued with several work and stop orders since 2020, when the facility relocated from St James.
Reid pleaded guilty to the offence in June.
On Friday, Reid turned up in court with attorney-at-law Tamika Davis, who is also the member of parliament for Hanover Western.
Davis pleaded with the court for leniency on Reid’s behalf, asking the judge not to view Reid as a person who has no regard for the law, but on the contrary, one who does and loves to help people.
She asked the judge to be as lenient, bearing in mind that the facility which she operates is not a profit-making entity, but instead one through which she helps people in need.
“She has learned and now better understands that notwithstanding her urge to help others, all the requirements of the law must be met first,” Davis argued.
A social enquiry report had also outlined some of Reid’s attempts to improve the facility.
Judge Plunkett explained that the legally recommended fine for the charge is one not exceeding $150,000.
She also benefited from pleading guilty.
“The court has to send a message to persons who operate nursing homes that they have to do so within the confines of the law,” the judge said, before imposing the sentence.
Reid later told The Gleaner that she believed the decision was fair.
“I appreciate the social enquiry report. I am very pleased. To God be the glory, we are still going to operate, but we will have to operate under the [requirements] ... of the law,” she stated.
Hanover Chief Public Health Inspector Patricia Hall-Patterson was also satisfied with the judgment and told The Gleaner that she plans to continue working with the operator so the facility can meet the requirements to operate.
“We have two more nursing homes within the parish of Hanover that need to be compliant with the law as well, so we will be working on those,” she added.