Updated: May 19
Dr Luz Longsworth, retired pro-vice-chancellor and principal of The University of the West Indies Open Campus, wants Government and private sector leaders to collaborate in building hospital wings that will provide dedicated and specialised healthcare and training for front-line workers.
Longsworth, now a leadership specialist, made the call while addressing a function put on by the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in collaboration with Sarah’s Children, to honour 32 front-line workers in St James.
“We are not able to set up full hospitals, but perhaps we could look at wings of our public hospitals that would give some priority to our front-line workers’ healthcare and their families as they continue to take care of us,” said Longsworth. “It’s one way of us taking care of them.”
Acknowledging that the country has serious demands on all its resources, Longsworth said the Government should consider advancing that concept.
Citing the model of the Walter Reid Medical Center in the United States, which specialises in training nurses and doctors with military service, which also gives priority to their peers when they are injured, Longsworth said that an investment in building out hospital wings is one of several ways of honouring and caring for the country’s front-line workers.
“What better investment can there be than in training our front-line workers and also caring for their needs, so that they can continue to care for us?” asked Longworth. “I urge the private sector and the Government to work together to develop a system that would provide that kind of care for our front-line workers.”
According to Longsworth, front-line workers are like shields, while at the same time are warriors as they battle through challenges to care of the nation.
Longsworth’s appeal comes months after Prime Minister Andrew Holness shot down a similar call from Patsy Edwards-Henry, president of the Nurses Association of Jamaica, whose members are constantly expressing frustration in watching their colleagues die, after being infected with COVID-19, while treating and caring for infected patients.
“I think that is something that we can consider because we have seen in other societies, during wars, where hospitals were set up for war veterans and their families, mostly to give special care, but for training in that special field,” added Longsworth.