The Maurice Byer Polyclinic in St. Peter (C.Pitt/BGIS)

The focus of the We Gatherin’ 2020 Philanthropy Drive has shifted to the Maurice Byer Polyclinic in St. Peter this month with Barbadians being urged to help the public health institution in whatever way they can.

The facility, which first opened its doors at the Arlington Health Centre in Speightstown in 1953, today treats about 2,500 patients each month from the parishes of St. Peter, St. Lucy, St. Andrew, St. Joseph, and parts of St. James and St. Thomas.

Since 1978, the polyclinic has been located at Station Hill, St. Peter.  It provides clinical services in child health, ante-natal, post-natal, family planning, psychiatry, podiatry; general practice services involving the treatment of non-communicable diseases; on-site services in dental, pharmacy, physiotherapy and nutrition, as well as environmental health services.

Medical Officer of Health in charge of the polyclinic, Dr. Cheryl McCollin, disclosed that the emergency care programme is one area in which public assistance would be welcomed, particularly in the provision of urgent care medical equipment.

She urged anyone interested in assisting to first enter into discussions with the polyclinic, since the philanthropic effort would have to be targeted to specific brands of machines for which the institution already had maintenance contracts.

Another project for community involvement is the rehabilitation of the carpark area.  Dr. McCollin stated: “The carpark is a real concern because the surface is very treacherous, so persons who are elderly and walking with canes, as well as disabled persons, have a challenge traversing that surface.”           

The unpaved parking area at the Maurice Byer Polyclinic. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

She said she would welcome assistance from any company or group willing to pave the surface, demarcate the parking spaces, as well as secure the boundaries. The lack of lighting is also an issue in the carpark, and with the extended hours service at the polyclinic running until 8:30 p.m., this was problematic for patients.

Visitors to the polyclinic would like to make greater use of the garden area while they wait for medical attention, but are unable to do so because of broken and termite-eaten benches, which need to be replaced.

Persons with landscaping skills are also needed to rejuvenate the plant life in the garden.  A pond on the site, used by environmental health officers to breed fish to help control mosquito breeding in the community, would also benefit from rehabilitation.

One of the most popular projects at the polyclinic is the children’s reading programme, which had to be suspended because of a lack of resources.

Dr. McCollin said that this programme was started to introduce “the joy of reading” to the children who attended the child health clinics every Monday and Thursday.

“We have a lot of children who sit in the waiting area awaiting care and they can get restless.  So, what we did was to open up our conference room facility to them, placed a play mat on the floor, and staff members would volunteer to come in and read to the children.”

But, she explained that with reduced staff, it became difficult to keep the programme going, so they are hoping that through the Philanthropy Drive, they can attract volunteers to come in during the morning to read and interact with the children, as well as to donate age-appropriate reading materials and more play mats towards this project.

Staff member Bonita Callender, reading to the children while they await medical care at the Maurice Byer Polyclinic. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

And another important part of the polyclinic’s community outreach is its Wellness Exemplified Programme, a two-year-old exercise programme, in which both patients and staff participate.

The Medical Officer of Health revealed that up to now the circuit-training type sessions have taken place in the staff lunchroom after hours, but a room in the building was now being retrofitted for these sessions.

As the programme expands, she said, the participants were hoping that persons would donate exercise equipment such as weights, and that they would be able to attract persons who would be willing to donate their time as trainers.

“Anyone with skills in training, dance, Zumba, yoga and so on, and who have time they can give, whether during working hours or otherwise to this programme, that would be ideal,” Dr. McCollin said.

She assured the public that donations of materials, skills, time and cash would all be appreciated as the polyclinic continued to strive to provide quality health care to the communities it serves.

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