Community-centred health care has returned to the parish of St. Joseph with the re-opening of the St. Joseph Out-patient Clinic this morning.
After closing its doors in March 2020, during the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the refurbished facility re-emerged better-equipped to offer community health care to residents in the catchment area.
This was achieved through a collaborative effort between the Design and Implementation Unit of the Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
Some of the improvements include additional space to facilitate patient flow; improved facilities for services such as pharmacy, podiatry and mental health clinics; the provision of covered external waiting areas; roof repairs and improvements in the waste water and surface water drainage.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel, Jeffrey Bostic, said that even prior to COVID-19, the clinic was plagued by environmental problems which resulted in periods of temporary closure so that remedial work could be carried out.
Pointing out that the clinic had been heavily utilized by St. Joseph residents over the years, he added that its closure meant health care services such as general practice, psychiatry, pharmacy, domiciliary care, antenatal, family planning, and child health services had to be suspended. Residents had to seek health care at other polyclinics during that period.
Minister Bostic also acknowledged that prior to the refurbishment the clinic had several challenges which needed to be addressed.
“These included, lack of accommodation for triage of all persons prior to entry of the building; the inability to separate persons who present with COVID-19 symptoms from others attending the out-patient clinic; inadequate space in the waiting room to accommodate seating of patients without COVID-19 symptoms while adhering to the COVID-19 requirements for physical distancing; lack of suitable waiting areas for persons who have been assessed as having COVID-19 symptoms, or for those unable to enter the clinic at the time owing to space constraints; and finally, lack of office space to provide medical management for patients who have symptoms of COVID-19,” he outlined.
The Health Minister noted that his Ministry thought it prudent to expand the facility while ensuring compliance with COVID-19 protocols.
He posited that the urgency for the proper management of infectious disease cases had to be done while permitting routine management of non-infectious patients.
He said his mandate was to provide the delivery of quality and affordable healthcare to all Barbadians and he believed this was achieved, in part, with the re-opening of the clinic.
“I am, therefore, pleased that the staff and clients of the St. Joseph Out-patient Clinic can now give and receive service in a more comfortable environment having addressed these challenges…. Prime Minister, your mandate to me was to make health care accessible for persons in the community with the emphasis on community health care. That was one of the promises that you made in the manifesto. That is one of the commitments that we have and I’m happy to report this morning, promise delivered,” Lt. Col. Bostic asserted.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Janet Phillips, said the refurbished clinic was proof of the Ministry’s commitment to the health and well-being of the population.
She further added that rural areas were not left behind which was sometimes the case with social development initiatives.
Ms. Phillips noted while the country wrestled with the demands of the pandemic as well as constraints with the supply chain, these factors did not impact the quality of health care delivered to Barbadians.
“The re-opening today is testimony to our commitment that we will continue to provide a very high calibre of health care to everyone in Barbados…. I wish to urge the residents of St. Joseph to strive towards achieving and maintaining good health and to adopt a holistic approach to doing so. Please take advantage of the many services that will be offered here in this spanking new renovated facility,” she stressed.
There are also two other out-patient clinics in the parishes of St. Thomas and St. Andrew.