PM Harris and Health Minister Byron-Nisbett spread Christmas cheer to patients and medical staff

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BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, December 24, 2020 (MMS-SKN) — Patients admitted at the nation’s premier medical institution, the Joseph N. France General Hospital, were on Christmas eve, Thursday December 24, pleasantly surprised when Prime Minister Dr the Hon Timothy Harris paid them a visit bearing gifts and words of encouragement.

Prime Minister Harris who was accompanied by the Minister of Health and Area Parliamentary Representative for St. Christopher Three, the Hon Akilah Byron-Nisbett, visited all departments of the massive hospital where they interacted with citizens and residents currently at the institution.

They ranged from one-day old babies to senior citizens whom the Prime Minister called by name, including one of his former teachers at the Cayon High School, and veteran Calypsonian, Mr Devron Liburd, better known in the entertainment world as Lord Kut.

To every individual the Prime Minister presented a gift he had words of encouragement for them in this season of Christmas. To the staff who included local doctors and nurses, Cuban doctors and nurses, medical students who are doing their training, and auxiliary staff, he commended them for rising to the occasion in a difficult year that has been characterised by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The visit to the hospital by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health was coordinated by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr Delores Stapleton-Harris, Medical Chief of Staff at the JNF Hospital Dr Cameron Wilkinson, Matron Mrs Kerry Williams-Tuckett, and Operations Manager, Institutional Based Health Services, Ms Gail Cranstoun, among other senior officials.   

“Usually there is carolling and concerts but because of Covid-19 we had to cut it back a little bit, and so the most we were able to do was just provide presents – just to bring a bit of cheer for those persons who find themselves in our health institutions during this time of the year,” explained the Minister of Health the Hon Akilah Byron-Nisbett.

She added: “And so it is a matter of just wishing everyone a merry Christmas and we are grateful that the Prime Minister would have been able to join us as we went to the Joseph N. France General Hospital.”

The Honourable Minister explained that at every Christmas Eve, the Prime Minister, herself, the Permanent Secretary, and the executive members of the Ministry of Health visit the three institutional based hospitals – the JNF General Hospital, the Mary Charles Hospital in Molineux, and the Pogson Medical Centre in Sandy Point, where they spread cheer to the patients who are at the hospitals.

However, after the Joseph N. France General Hospital visit, Prime Minister Harris had to leave to attend to matters of state, leaving Minister Byron-Nisbett, the Permanent Secretary Dr Stapleton-Harris, and Chief Medical of Staff Dr Cameron Wilkinson, and the executive members of the Ministry of Health to proceed on to the Mary Charles Hospital and the Pogson Medical Centre.

“Each year the Ministry of Health as well as each constituency representative as well as the Prime Minister collaborate to bring cheer to the patients of the hospitals,” noted Permanent Secretary Dr Delores Stapleton-Harris. “Traditionally it is a grand occasion where we would engage in serious and significant Christmas programme but owing to the Covid this year, we have scaled it down significantly, and so we have just engaged in distribution of gifts to the clients.”

According to the Permanent Secretary, the visits to the medical institutions is an initiative that started many years ago to ensure that clients and the patients know that not only the nurses and doctors care, but the Ministry of Health cares, as well as the government.

“This year is no different and although the Covid is here, we are still remembering them,” said Dr Stapleton-Harris. “This is the significant reminder that they are important, as our healthcare persons in particular at this juncture where we are confronted with Covid. We believe that our patients should be safe as well as our staff, and so this gesture is illustrative of just that.”

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