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Tiny Brown’s Town Health Centre serves thousands - Serving the public from limited space

Published:Saturday | May 4, 2019 | 12:05 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer
A view of the Brown’s Town Health Centre in St Ann.
A view of the Brown’s Town Health Centre in St Ann.

The Brown’s Town Health Centre, a Type 3 clinic, is located in the inner region of St Ann and serves thousands of persons drawn from the town and its surrounding communities such as Standfast, Orange Hill, Philadelphia and Trysee, among others.

The health centre, as with all health facilities in St Ann, St Mary and Portland, falls under the ambit of the North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA), one of four regional health groups serving Jamaica.

The regular operating schedule of the centre is Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with specific days set for the different services. These are spread across the following areas: chronic disease, nutrition, curative clinic, child health, family planning, maternal health (antenatal and postnatal care), pharmacy, laboratory services, oral health services, environmental health and mental health services.

In 2015, a total of 13,836 persons were served at the facility.

Growth in population over the years and added demands on the facilities due to changing disease profiles have rendered the health centre’s capacity inadequate.

Physically, the structure is small to the point where working spaces could aptly be described as cramped.

‘Severe limitations on plans for expansion’

Arlene Mighty, acting parish manager, St Ann Health Department, in explaining the outlook for the Brown’s Town health facility, stated in an email response to queries: “Regrettably, the facility has long outgrown the space it requires to accommodate clients in an enabling environment. If construction of a new building is to be considered as an alternative to the existing structure, there is no readily available land in the immediate vicinity to acquire for this purpose.

“Unfortunately, the nature of and demand for our services do not permit cessation of operations for demolition of the existing structure for any protracted time without our first identifying and relocating to suitable temporary accommodation until a new building is constructed to avoid disruption to healthcare.”

Mighty said the challenge has placed severe limitations on plans for expansion and addition of new service. “The aged design of the building does not allow for modern, efficient workflow processes to be readily incorporated into any proposed construction plan/additions to it, without attracting economically imprudent attendant costs.”

She added: “However, demolition of the existing structure is the better of the two alternatives in view of the scarcity of land in Brown’s Town, and this is where we fervently hope to attract and retain new benefactors who will partner with us to fund construction and equipping of a modern facility that is fully equipped to meet current and anticipated demand in line with population growth.”

As outlined above, the number-one priority is to secure a new building that will facilitate expansion. After that, the focus will be on new equipment. “We are not only soliciting assistance to erect a new multilevel health centre at the existing location, but we are also seeking to equip Brown’s Town Health Centre with modern equipment and tools to improve the quality of our healthcare and usher us into the digital age,” Mighty outlined.