On Tuesday, December 17, 2013, History was created. On that day His Excellency the Most Honourable Sir Patrick Allen became the first Head of State to officially visit the Annotto Bay Hospital in St. Mary in twenty years. Her Excellency The Most Honourable Lady Allen accompanied the Governor-General.
Their Excellencies’ visit to the hospital culminated their Annual Hospital Tours for the year 2013, having already visited the Bustamante Hospital for Children in Kingston and the Percy Junor Hospital in Manchester.
As is customary, Their Excellencies spent quality time listening to, encouraging and bringing good cheer to the patients who explained their various ailments and commended the hospital staff for their care. The visit was a joyous occasion for everyone, especially for the patients who, on several occasions, happily embraced the Governor-General and Lady Allen, shook their hands, and in a very respectful manner, made attempts to stand to greet Their Excellencies.
The genuine hospitality shown to Their Excellencies was even more evident at the ceremony that was held in honour of the visit to the hospital, as patients and visitors alike, lined the grounds in anticipation of the message that was to be delivered by Governor-General.
Sir Patrick Allen, in delivering his remarks at the function, thanked the patients and members of staff for the warm welcome extended to Lady Allen and himself from the moment of their arrival at the hospital. He said that their official visit was part and parcel of his annual tour of hospitals across the length and breadth of Jamaica. The Governor-General said that: “This aspect of my work has brought me great joy. It is appropriately scheduled for this time of the year when we too can bring joy and a sense of hope to all whom we encounter during this season of good cheer”.
In recalling the devastation of the institution after the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, Sir Patrick Allen said that he was heartened then and now by the lessons which came out of the refurbishing exercise that later followed. This included the partnership between public and private sector entities which he said was largely responsible for the more than $90 million of repairs undertaken and completed within a year.
“The Annotto Bay Hospital is charged with the responsibility of providing professional, reliable, caring and affordable health service to all those who are ill and seek treatment”, said the Governor-General.
It is with this in mind that the Governor-General publicly acknowledged the partnerships established with the NCB Foundation and Negril International Hospital. These, he said, were driven by their strong sense of corporate social responsibility. The NCB Foundation donated a desktop aneroid blood pressure unit and the three suction machines, and the Negril International Hospital a Hysterectomy Unit along with other medical supplies.
Sir Patrick Allen used the opportunity to call on members of corporate Jamaica and the Diaspora “to assist our hospitals in their quest to deliver and maintain quality service. This is a challenge for developing countries and we must always keep this in mind. “
The Governor-General also reiterated that Jamaica must continue to invest in the development of the health sector “in order to have the human resource required to effectively participate in the building of a just society.”