US-based nursing couple adopts Steer Town Health Centre
Government’s Adopt-a-Clinic Programme gets a boost
Ranny Watson and his wife Janice experienced the loss of a loved one some years ago in St Ann, but instead of blaming the local health system, the couple, being health professionals themselves, decided to help the sector.
The two registered nurses have been living in Houston, Texas, for just over three decades, with Ranny, who originally hailed from Goshen, St Elizabeth, and Janice, from St Ann’s Bay, both serving in the local health fraternity before they migrated.
Ranny told The Gleaner that he previously worked at Kingston Public Hospital, Bellevue Hospital, University Hospital of the West Indies, Spanish Town Hospital, and the St Joseph’s Hospital.
Their experience no doubt would have allowed them a better understanding of the operations within the health sector and would have influenced their decision to give back.
Over the year, they have donated items such as scales and blood-monitoring equipment, among other things.
On Thursday, however, the couple formalised their relation with the local health sector by adopting the Steer Town Health Centre in St Ann under the Government of Jamaica’s Adopt-A-Clinic Programme.
Under the programme, the couple have agreed to donate J$2.2 million over the next three years, averaging over J$700,000 annually.
In April, the couple began the process by handing over $751,000, which represents the amount for the first year.
“We’re members of the healthcare team. We were born here, trained here, at Kingston School of Nursing, and we’re always looking to give back,” Ranny, who travelled here alone for the function, told The Gleaner.
He added: “We’ve given back in other communities in other areas, and we’re looking at the healthcare system now based on our profession and we can reach people to help them to access good healthcare. And it really came home when we had some illness in the family, and it didn’t go well, and we were saying, how can we make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to somebody else?”
He continued: “When we look at community healthcare, we thought that if we can keep the health centres going, we can keep the crowding from the hospital and we can take them at this level. They can come here and get one-to-one care here instead of going to the hospital and wait for long hours and possibly not get the care they need.”
At the ceremony, Health and Wellness Minister Christopher Tufton hailed the contribution of the couple, saying that the adoption is a step in the right direction as the Government strategically aligns with international partners, the diaspora, and the local private sector.
“I pause here to express deep thanks to our donor partners, Mr Ranny F. Watson and Mrs Janice M. Watson, from Houston, Texas, who have taken on this health centre,” Tufton said in a prepared speech.
“Their contribution to this project demonstrates the kind of support that the diaspora is capable of providing to our ongoing efforts to enhance the public-health system, particularly at a time when we are faced with the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.
The minister said that the funding would not only support the renovation of the facilities, but also “the purchase of needed clinical and office equipment as well as infrastructural upgrades and maintenance”.
Tufton said that the health centre serves 12,000 patients from Steer Town and adjoining communities including Mammee Bay, Chalky Hill, Davis Town, and Greenwich Acres, among others, offering services in the areas of family health, curative services, child guidance and psychology, postnatal, and child health.