Government to the rescue

THE Government has said it will do what is necessary to keep St Monica’s Home for the Abandoned and Elderly open after the Jamaica Observer reported that the facility was on the brink of closure.

The announcement, which was made by Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Desmond McKenzie during the post-Cabinet media briefing at Jamaica House on Wednesday, has given the chair for the St Patrick’s Foundation — the charity that runs the home – some hope.

“If the ministry can provide assistance, at least it would give us the ability to manage. At least things are going in a positive direction. I was looking at four months to survive, without having to close. We wouldn’t want that to happen, I want the place to stay opened,” said Hermine Metcalfe, St Patrick’s Foundation chair.

Metcalfe said with the ministry’s assistance, the opportunity to take on more people in need could be considered.

“It would be a major contribution that will put us in a good standing. We would be able to properly operate the home and admit more people. We have people who are out on the road who need care and we could do that and more, if we have the money to do so,” she added.

According to McKenzie, the Government is aware of the concerns highlighted regarding privately operated facilities that provide care for the less fortunate in local newspapers, in particular, the Jamaica Observer.

The story, “HELP! Elderly facing bleak future as St Patrick’s Foundation sees donations reduce to a trickle”, detailed that a decline in financial assistance for the St Patrick’s Foundation saw it struggling to stay afloat.

It pointed out that 18 elderly Jamaicans, who receive care at the St Catherine-based charity’s home, faced the risk of losing that benefit in the next 10 months if the organisation’s appeal for help yields no fruit.

“I make reference to the St Patrick’s Foundation which appeared on the front page of the Observer, where they are expressing grave concerns about the continuous operation of the facility and the fact that they are finding it extremely challenging to get the kind of support that is required to continue the operations of these facilities,” said McKenzie.

McKenzie said he has given instructions regarding the next move for the St Patrick’s Foundation and its home for the elderly.

“We don’t want the facility to be closed. We noticed that there are concerns about the cost to operate the facility. We have commenced the discussions to see how best we can assist. Whether we can take the responsibility of running the facility, we would have to look at the recent ramification before or if not we will bring these people into the existing system as it relates to our infirmary,” he said.

He noted that the Government would not want to see the closure of any facility that provides care for that sector of the society.

“We are concerned that a number of homes over the last couple of months have gone through some changes. We did intervene and absorbed a number of persons from a private facility into a number of infirmaries,” he said.

“I want to give the country the assurance that the Government of Prime Minister Andrew Holness will do what is necessary to ensure that these facilities continue to offer the services that are required. The Government runs some 13 infirmaries, plus two golden age homes, and we do provide annual financial assistance, to private homes or institutions, right across the country and we will continue to do so,” he added.

The St Patrick’s Foundation, which is a non-profit human and community development organisation established in 1994 by the late Monsignor Richard Albert, runs Riverton Early Childhood Centre, St Margaret’s Human Resource Centre, and Christ The Redeemer Human Resource Centre (CTR) in Kingston.

But the trickle in donations has seen the temporarily closure of CTR in January this year.