Residents of Albouystown/ Charlestown can once again access medical services from the
Albouystown Health Centre, which was declared open on Monday by Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence.
The Albouystown Health Centre was closed to the public for over a year after renovations were undertaken by the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) because the facility had deteriorated.
With the re-opening of the centre, residents will also have access to new services, including a clinic for chronic non-communicable diseases, voluntary counselling and testing for HIV, and a pharmacy.
The centre will also operate five-days-a-week as opposed to the previous three-days-a-week schedule. Additionally, it is expected that health workers would be visiting the residents who miss clinic dates and offer health services to the elderly at the Dharm Shala.
Minister Lawrence, in her feature address at Monday’s reopening ceremony, announced that her ministry is currently working out the protocols for a doctor to be assigned to the health centre on a full-time basis and for residents to be able to access dental checkups on a quarterly basis.
Lawrence noted that the operation of the health centre falls in line with the vision of her government and the ministry of health centres becoming an integral part of communities by offering quality services to residents of the community and outlining areas. With the reopening of the health centre, she also said, residents can minimise their travels to the George-town Public Hospital (GPH) and the hours-long wait they may sometimes endure for medical attention.
Lawrence added that she hopes that “the councillors in this area will join with this community’s health workers, along with the NGOs in this community to make this community a community of healthy people.”
Mayor Patricia Chase-Green, in her remarks at the reopening, apologised for the delay in the rehabilitation of the centre, which she was as a result of financial hurdles faced by the council. In this regard, she called on residents to pay their taxes.
She said that taxes are one of the most important forms of revenue generation at the council and it can only do work if money becomes available.
Chase-Green thanked the ministry for its support in the rehabilitation project and requested assistance to improve the services provided at the Festival City Health Centre. She also suggested that the council and the ministry work together to resuscitate the operations of the municipal health centres in Bel Air and Queenstown. The two health centres were closed as a result of the city council’s limited finances.
Meanwhile, residents said that they were happy to hear new health services would be introduced at the centre. One resident, Ewart Williams, said that it was a hassle for residents to go to other health institutions during the temporary closure of the health centre. As a resident of the community, he said he was happy that the centre was reopened with upgraded standards and services.
Another resident, Lloyd (only name given), said that the reopening was timely for him since he is recovering from an illness. He stated that he learned the importance of a health facility in the community after he fell sick and had to visit the Georgetown Public Hospital, where he had to wait for hours to receive medical attention.
He believed that residents would use the facility to their advantage and he also pledged to keep a keen eye on the building and guard against those who may have intentions of defacing it.
One mother, Althea Solomon, told this newspaper that she, like other residents, was affected greatly as she had to travel to access medical attention at the South Road Health Centre.
“If you had a small cut or get some injury while you were working at home, you could have come right here but for that year we had to go out of Albouystown to get treatment and see a nurse. It was kinda hard,” Solomon said, while adding that she was happy that the community and other residents could access a new range of services.
Rehabilitation of the building started in March, 2016, but it was halted on numerous occasions due to the unavailability of money. The work was pegged at $3 million and had been expected to be completed in May, 2016. To date, Stabroek News was told, more than $3 million was spent on the rehabilitation of the structure.
The centre, located at John and Bel Air streets, began offering services in 1970, after it was established under then serving Minister of Health and former Mayor, Hamilton Green.