Hundreds of residents from across western Jamaica are now benefiting from improved medical care following the recent opening of a new two-storey building which houses the Hope Health Centre, which was constructed at a cost of $200 million by the Good Shepherd Foundation.
Ground was broken for the multimillion-dollar facility — built on the grounds of the Blessed Sacrament Cathedral Catholic Church in Montego Bay — in January of 2011. Construction was completed last December.
At the official opening of the centre last week, Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, who delivered the keynote address, pointed to the benefits of the new health facility.
“It is particularly noteworthy that this facility will provide the means for professional development of staff. An investment of this nature will have a rippling effect as it will improve their skill and knowledge base, and those whom they serve will be the beneficiary of quality service. Much teaching will take place in this facility,” he stated.
The governor general then noted that primary health care is one area in which the country has a good track record.
“Primary health care is certainly one area in which we have had a good track record, and we must use our experience of the past to build a solid and safe health care infrastructure in our still developing country,” he put forward.
The centre was started 42 years ago in the Blessed Sacrament Cathedral Catholic Church Hall and, following the establishment of the Good Shepherd Foundation, it was relocated to much bigger surroundings in the nearby Albion community.
However, a decision was later taken to construct a building to house the centre, on the church compound.
At present, over 30,000 patients are attended to at the facility on an annual basis.
“For my personal opinion, I did not want a little ‘dibby, dibby’ something… I wanted a structure that my people could feel proud of and comfortable in. And we wanted something that could grow for the next 50 years, which is why it (the new facility) is like that,” Jeanne Robinson- Foster, chairperson of Good Shepherd Foundation, told the Jamaica Observer West, following last week’s official opening ceremony.
The new facility is home to an eye care centre, dental clinic, general medical practice, a quiet chapel, and consists of nine suites for accommodating visiting teams of volunteer doctors and nurses.
“To every single person who contributed to the design, construction and ultimate fitting of this edifice, please accept the heartfelt thanks of our community. And this includes the St James Parish Council (municipal corporation), which displayed great alacrity each time we needed it,” said Robinson-Foster, as she expressed thanks and gratitude to those who have made the new state-of-the-art facility a reality.
“For the seven years that we have laboured, certain persons here gathered have laboured with us to garner funds. Some reside here, others are on other shores, but their hearts are in Jamaica. Your Excellency, audience, please let us have a resounding applause for our Wall of Friends group who had annual fund-raisers, put on under the leadership of Chair Marie Dufour, Vice-President Jacques Davis; Secretary Elaine Kong, and all Friends of Good Shepherd International in the USA. And of course, there is our home-grown Wall of Friends,” she added.
Robinson- Foster also expressed appreciation to patients of Hope Health Clinic who also made contributions.
“I understand that this is the modern-day tale of the widow’s mite. And so, whether you made tamarind balls and sold them, or did odd jobs for pay, or shared what you could hardly have shared, I say from the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you patients of Hope Clinic. You answered the call and contributed. This is community working for community… together to help the helpless,” said Robinson-Foster.
By: Anthony Lewis