Mr. Fabian Brown, founder of Value Added Services (VAS), has always been a man of action. Things happen around him, and they are all good things.
“This is partnership in action,” said Mr. Brown at the launch of new emergency services at the ninety-year-old Nuttall Memorial Hospital in Kingston last week. Under its redevelopment program, Nuttall was about to open its Accident and Emergency Unit and Ambulance Service. The Hospital has also leased office space to the Jamaica Association of Professionals in Nutrition and Dietetics (JAPINAD) so there was a ribbon-cutting there. Nationwide News Network was there to provide full coverage of the event.
Nuttall is a small (50-bed) private hospital with a history rooted in the Church. It is owned by the Anglican Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands and was built in memory of Archbishop Enos Nuttall, who came to Jamaica as a Wesleyan missionary at the age of nineteen and became first Archbishop of the Province of the West Indies in 1893.
Located in Cross Roads – half way between uptown and downtown – the hospital was built on land belonging to Bishop Decarteret (the old part of the building is his former home, called Newington) and opened in December 1923, with staff from a small nursing home on East Street. I have always loved the old fashioned porch with its white columns and steps, and the sweeping lawns in front facing Caledonia Avenue.
Over the years Nuttall has been supported mostly by private donations, expanding during the fifties and sixties. The 21st century, however, has brought its economic challenges, and its accident and emergency service had been closed for the past three years. So last Wednesday, February 19 marked something of a revival. Nuttall and its partners expect that revival to gather strength. “We want to become a one-stop medical centre. We do not have the capital, so we are taking on partners who will share the cost and the revenue,” said CEO Harvey Levers.
The energetic Mr. Brown (he’s a former director of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Kingston) called the collaboration between his organization and the hospital administration, along with the support of the private sector “a smart partnership.” VAS will provide management services. The aim is to provide a range of medical and wellness services to corporate Jamaica and to the education sector, as well as to the Jamaican public. The cost of this particular project is J$17 million, enabling the new A&E Department to run twelve hours daily – from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. As it establishes itself it is expected to operate “24/7.”
JAPINAD’s President Kirk Bolton was happy to have the listening ear of Health Minister Dr. Fenton Ferguson. Nuttall Hospital will provide Mr. Bolton’s organization with its first incubator for nutritionists and dietitians as well as administrative facilities. Mr. Bolton said he and his colleagues felt “disenfranchised” by the Government. A change in the law, whereby his profession would be licensed, is needed. He is hoping for a proper government-run internship program and a strong undergraduate program. JAPINAD is well organized, with its own code of ethics, and deserves official recognition and support, Mr. Bolton urged.
Minister Ferguson took his point, promising (as all good politicians do) that “the best days for JAPINAD are ahead of you.” He outlined his plans for the health sector. Minister Ferguson likes to do one thing at a time, and next on his list (having dealt with the tobacco issue) is proper nutrition. After that, he plans to tackle obesity, and then alcohol. “Health is not only for the social good,” he pointed out, but also an economic issue that requires political will to manage. He is hoping to encourage health tourism, so that Jamaica can “become the health hub of the Caribbean by 2030.”
However far away that dream may be, there is much to be done here and now. As we all crowded into the new Department, a smiling nurse greeted us and another posed for her photo beside one of the beds. Afterwards, we spilled out into the wide porch and ate delicious, healthy offerings offered by Diet Centre Jamaica, which has been providing quality meals for Nuttall patients for the past year. Others went for health checks and talks and there was also a discount card on offer.
So future partners, step up! Our people’s health is certainly worth investing in. And Nuttall is going places.
Important footnote: One of the services that VAS provides is Music and Entertainment. The Seaview All-Stars Marching Band (which came into being through the St. Patrick’s Foundation, a faith-based non-profit operating from Seaview Gardens) really are stars, in so many ways. Many of the members I knew as teens and “young yute” are now all grown up; including one of the band’s leaders, Tarrick, whom I met again at Nuttall. He is doing well, and so are the other young musicians whom I remembered from the band and who performed at the launch. Do take a look at the VAS website: http://www.vasjamaica.com. You can also contact them at: 6 Caledonia Avenue, Kingston 5. Tel: (876) 474-2570/537-8764. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Nuttall Memorial Hospital is at the same address and can be reached at (876) 926-2139; Email: email@example.com. The website is http://www.nuttallhospital.org.