Wed | Oct 20, 2021

Williamsfield Health Centre needs more staff, upgrades

Published:Tuesday | June 25, 2019 | 12:06 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
Williamsfield Health Centre, located in the community square in Williamsfield, Westmoreland.
JacquelineMyrieA: Jacqueline Myrie, one of two community health aides assigned to the Williamsfield Health Centre in Williamsfield, Westmoreland, handling supplies at the centre.

The Williamsfield Health Centre in Williamsfield, Westmoreland, is one of several major landmarks in the rural farming community, which is nestled in the Central Westmoreland constituency. Visitors to the district can easily spot the clinic’s main building, as it is in the main square with several small shops close by, and its location makes it easily accessible for anyone who needs medical care.

According to the Westmoreland Health Services office, the Williamsfield clinic was placed on the Adopt-a-Clinic list for selection by affiliated organisations. To date, the facility remains open for adoption, with only the needs of the clinic to be determined.

One possible need at the clinic is for a greater staff complement, as currently there are two community health aides and one orderly who work there on a daily basis. This proves to be particularly challenging as the clinic has to serve residents from at least nine communities, including Williamsfield itself.

Jacqueline Myrie, one of the health centre’s two community health aides, says that due to the large number of patients who come for specific services, there is often not enough space for everyone.

“We cater for Williamsfield, Bird Mountain, Grange, Glenbrook, Content, Fort William, Porters Mountain, Welcome, Friendship, and a lot of other places, so sometimes the clinic is overcrowded. It is three of us, two community health aides and the orderly, who assists with cleaning, and the three of us are assigned here every day,” said Myrie.

“We do dressings (of wounds) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. For Tuesdays and Thursdays, for emergency cases we will assist and dress the cuts,” Myrie explained. “We also do bookwork and filing of dockets, and we do home visits, too.”

Services available at the Williamsfield Health Centre depend largely on the day of the week that patients come to visit, and also the time of the month.

“When it is clinic day for the first Wednesday of the month, which includes antenatal clinic, pap smears and family planning, then that is a large (busy) day. The second Wednesday is for medicals, so it’s a large day, and for the third Thursday, it is medical and tri-combine,” said Myrie.

“For tri-combine, we have family planning, child health, to include babies and antenatal mothers, and we do pap smears for six-week mothers, who recently had babies, and also postnatal clinic work for six-week-old babies for their vaccines.”

More serious or emergency cases are usually referred to the health centres in the Petersfield community or the parish capital of Savanna-la-mar, due to limited staff at Williamsfield.

“We don’t have a nurse assigned here every day, so if we have serious cases, we have to refer them to Savanna-la-Mar or Petersfield. We have said we need more staff, like more community health aides, because the service area is big,” Myrie admitted.

Residents of Williamsfield, Westmorland, who use the health centre say the small staff complement, and limited visits by doctors and nurses are just a few of several issues facing the clinic.“The clinic needs to be developed. One time, a couple of years ago, it had a matron … so we need somebody there that has the capability; and the place needs to be developed and to look modern,” said senior citizen Douglas Wilson.

We need nurses

“We don’t have a problem with the clinic, but we need nurses to be there,” Wilson continued. “One time I got a cut on my hand and the lady there referred me to Savanna-la-Mar, but maybe if a nurse was there two or three times a week, it would be better. The ladies that are there, they can’t write prescriptions.”

Another resident, Caswell Madourie, agreed that doctors and nurses should show up at the facility more often. He also pointed to the need for better security of the premises.

“They (health centre workers) are trying there, but the clinic needs upgrading because a lot of people come there. It needs extensions to be built on it, plus proper fencing; and it is only one day that the doctor and nurse come,” said Madourie.