IT has been a while in the making but ground has finally been broken for the Mary Issa Pediatric and Adolescent Health Centre at Richmond, St Ann.
The facility will provide a much-needed space for the provision of health care for children in Ocho Rios and its environs.
Conceptualised by the Issa Trust Foundation, the facility is being partially funded from the proceeds of a concert featuring American superstar Michael Bolton and others, held in May.
Renowned hotelier Paul Issa, for whose grandmother the facility is named, has been leading the charge to make a difference in the lives of young people in the northern coastal belt, through various charitable initiatives.
The facility will cost approximately US$1.2 million in construction expenses. The trust has received support from the Ministry of Health and Wellness through the National Health Fund, as well as several international foundations such as Direct Relief, and many local businesses which have stepped up to assist.
Issa said: “We’re naming it the Mary Issa health centre after my grandmother, Mary Brimo Issa, who in the late 19th century came to Jamaica with her family from Damascus, Syria. In 1900 she met and married my grandfather, Elias Abraham Issa, another immigrant, from Bethlehem in Palestine.
“She was devoted to children her whole life and took care of many children apart from her own — fostering them, seeing that they had medical care, seeing to their education. When she died in the early 1950s my grandfather built the first Mary Issa Children’s Health Centre in downtown Kingston in her honour. Sadly, it is no longer operational,” said Issa.
He added: “We decided it would be a good idea to build a new Mary Issa Health Centre on the north coast, to serve the communities where we currently operate our business — Couples Resorts.
“Construction is about to commence on the new facility, located directly across from Chukka Cove. We hope to be open and operating by next year this time, providing health care to children and adolescents.”
Diane Pollard, president and chief executive officer of Issa Trust Foundation, said the importance of the Mary Issa Pediatric and Adolescent Health Centre to Jamaica cannot be overstated.
“The facility will not only fill a critical gap in St Ann and St Mary but will also provide primary care in an atmosphere that engages both patients and families in a multifaceted service that addresses physical, mental, and social support needs,” said Pollard.
In addition to offering preventative services, the centre plans to operate specialty clinics in cardiology, nephrology, gastroenterology, oncology, vision, and hearing, just to name a few.