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New NERHA chairman focused on vaccine roll-out

Published:Saturday | March 20, 2021 | 12:13 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer
Laura Heron, chairman of NERHA.
Laura Heron, chairman of NERHA.

Recently-appointed chairman of the North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA), Laura Heron, says getting people vaccinated and back to work are top of her agenda as she assumes a position made vacant by the passing of former chairman Tyrone Robinson in January.

Heron, who has served in varying capacities on several public and private-sector boards, is currently director of Guardsman Group Ltd, deputy chairman of the Tourism Product Development Company, and a director at Jampro.

Laced with a wealth of experience in the tourism sector, Heron previously served as general manager of the St Ann Development Company, a subsidiary of the Urban Development Corporation, and is currently the managing director for Guardsman Hospitality Limited.

Speaking to The Gleaner on Thursday, Heron said despite the challenging times in which she is assuming the post, she will “give it my very best”.

“Obviously, with what we’re experiencing now with this pandemic, the most important thing is to try and get the country back to a position where people can get back to work, in a very significant way. I believe that the only way that’s going to happen is when we get to a point with vaccinations. I think the recognition has to be made that this (vaccine) is really the only thing that will possibly get us to turn it around,” Heron said.

ENCOURAGING OTHERS

She added: “My focus right now is trying to get that rolled out in a significant way and doing what I can to encourage people to be a part of that process.

“In parallel with that we have some significant work to be done in terms of improvement of facilities that I’m trying to spearhead as well.

“The previous chairman went a far way with it and I am certainly quite honoured to be picking up the mantle and carrying on with what he had started.”

Like the other regional health authorities across the island, NERHA began its roll-out of vaccines last week across St Ann, St Mary and Portland, offering the drug from selected outlets at some hospitals and health centres.

Heron has already toured the hospitals in the region and some of the health centres, several of which are being renovated.

“I’m very heartened to see that, because these are facilities that were really very much in need of renovation. I’m hoping when this is done it will certainly take some pressure off the hospital facilities for specific types of treatment,” she said.