Caring for cops

BLACK RIVER, St Elizabeth — For the past 17 years the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) convalescent home here has given holistic care to 139 members of the police force injured in the line of duty, with the majority making a full recovery.

Director of the facility, Deputy Superintendent Stacey-Ann Waldron-Lee last week told the Jamaica Observer that the location can accommodate up to 17 cops at one time.

“We have nine [patients] now. We discharged some prior to the Christmas holiday and sometime [this] week we should be going to the hospital to assess about three persons to see if they meet the criteria for coming here,” said Waldron-Lee.

“When a police officer is injured or has a stroke, when they are at the acute stage they are at the hospital. We facilitate them when they are…recuperating and meet the rehabilitative state. Sometimes it is just to nurse them back to good health,” added Waldron-Lee.

Doctors, nutritionists, psychologists and social workers regularly cater to the needs of the members of the JCF at the facility.

Waldron-Lee, who has been a registered nurse for the past 13 years and a member of the JCF for 25 years, said the convalescent home offers hope to injured and sick police officers.

“Sometimes it is just diabetes that is out of control, hypertension out of control. Sometimes it is based on where they get the gunshot wound, they can’t walk so they are here to get physiotherapy treatment.

“We have lots of success stories where some of our patients…were quadriplegic where from the neck down is paralysed, and we get them to stage where they may not walk but hands can be at least functional to push their wheelchairs or they can get certain gadgets to feed themselves,” Waldron-Lee said.

She pointed out that the recovery rate is high among the cops who receive care at the facility.

“We have patients who get strokes and in two months they are fully functional — walking again, speech no longer slurred, face no longer twisted — and then another person who gets a stroke as well, six months down the road they are still struggling with speech, still can’t walk independently, so it varies.”

She said some police personnel who recuperated at the facility have returned to front-line duties.

“Over our 17 years we have admitted 139 police officers, and over 90 per cent of them return to work effectively. The other remaining go back to work but do light duties like desk work, and others would be working from home or going into an early retirement,” she said.

According to Waldron-Lee, visits are strongly encouraged and facilitated to assist in the recovery of patients.

“It is quite a long visitation. We started relaxing it to the amount of [visitors] because COVID-19 is still [around] but for the most part, if 10 people come in a vehicle to visit a particular patient, we will have them come in two by two. We try to encourage visits by family, friends and colleagues.

“Most family members are satisfied with how we care for their loved ones, and police officers are satisfied with how we care for their colleagues,” added Waldron-Lee, who has been working at the home for 10 years (seven as director).

She told the Observer that the facility is supported financially by the Government and well-wishers.

“The Ministry of National Security funds us for the most part but we also get donations from time to time from the ex-police associations — locally and abroad. We have friends of the force who will come and just ask if they can just spend a day of cheer with our patients and bring goodies,” noted Waldron-Lee.

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