A rusted bed on the ward at the district hospital. (B.Hinds/BGIS)

The St. Lucy District Hospital and the Elayne Scantlebury Centre, both located at River Bay, St. Lucy, are the focus of this month’s philanthropic efforts under the We Gatherin’ 2020 initiative.

The year-long initiative aims to raise financial and other forms of assistance for public health institutions throughout the island.

Each month as We Gatherin’ 2020 moves from parish to parish, Barbadians and friends of Barbados, at home and abroad, are being encouraged to donate cash, equipment, materials and time to healthcare facilities, including polyclinics, district hospitals, special needs institutions and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

The St. Lucy District Hospital, which is the oldest government-run healthcare institution in Barbados, was established in 1866.

It is home to 26 females aged 52 and upwards, including two centenarians.  Their diagnoses include dementia, Alzheimer’s, and the range of chronic diseases, including hypertension, diabetes and epilepsy.

Principal Nursing Officer in charge of the facility, Francine Watson, said: “Within these walls are residents who would have given a lot of their time and effort to Barbados.  They helped to build this country to where it is at this time.  It is necessary now for persons to give back to them.”

The physical needs of the institution are visible to anyone who visits the idyllic site at River Bay, just a stone’s throw from the sea.

The Principal Nursing Officer observed: “We do enjoy the breeze from the sea, but the sea is a blessing and yet it is a curse because due to the sea spray and the corrosion it causes, our fence is down.  And it has not only affected the fence, but our beds are rusting and our equipment is also affected.”      

Cramped staff quarters is also an issue, and to remedy this, there is a building on site earmarked for refurbishment, once the necessary funds become available.

Damaged and rusted window frames at the Elayne Scantlebury Centre. (B.Hinds/BGIS)

Nurse Watson said she is keenly aware that everyone might not be able to provide financial assistance, and she made it clear that assistance in kind would also be welcomed.

“We would not mind people giving service or time to the hospital because that is also valuable.  If there are artisans out there who can assist us with painting the building, or cutting the hedges or landscaping generally, we would welcome this.  Also, if there are people who are willing to come in and read to the residents or help to comb their hair or just talk with them and keep their company, all of this would contribute to improving their quality of life.”

Persons interested in assisting the district hospital in any way are invited to call the Principal Nursing Officer at 439-8232 or visit the website www.wegatherinbarbados.com.

Located on the same compound is the Elayne Scantlebury Centre, which is home to 25 physically and mentally challenged adults, aged 39 to 63.  The disabilities include cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, blindness and brain damage.

Supervisor Charmaine Payne said her greatest wish is for a state-of-the-art facility, which truly caters to the needs of persons with disabilities.

The nurse and social worker is a strong advocate for her patients, declaring: “Persons with disabilities are just like you and me.  It’s just that something has happened that unfortunately has resulted in their disability, but I can tell you that my patients are very assertive; they are very articulate and they are deserving of any support the community can provide.”

The wish list at the centre includes beds, wheelchairs, ceiling fans and additional storage.  Just like the district hospital, they are impacted by the sea spray and have rusting window frames.

An element of the We Gatherin’ year of celebrations is the philanthropy drive. Each month, public health facilities in the highlighted parish will be the focus of the drive. (BGIS)

They would welcome volunteers to renovate the women’s and men’s dormitories, and artists who would be willing to complete a mural already started on one wall, as well as to create other murals and art work to brighten the spaces.

“We would also like persons to open their hearts in giving their time, knowledge and skills,” the supervisor added.

For example, Ms. Payne said that persons trained in the area of disabilities would be welcomed to conduct workshops for the staff as well as to engage the patients in rehabilitative work and other activities which would stimulate them.

Additionally, she said she would love to see more social interaction between the patients and the community. 

“We have people who consistently support us, but it is the same people all of the time.  We would love to see more people coming in to share their time and skills with the patients.  It would mean a great deal to the residents and members of the community will find that they are enriched by the experience as well.”

Persons interested in helping the Elayne Scantlebury Centre may contact the centre at 422-9185, or visit www.wegatherinbarbados.com.


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