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Government of Saint Lucia

 Hon. Sarah L. Flood-Beaubrun


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Christmas Message 2000

by Hon. Sarah L. Flood-Beaubrun

Minister for Health, Human Services, Family Affairs and Gender Relations

Parliamentary Representative, Castries Central

Fellow Citizens:

Christmas is here again and so is the dawn of another New Year.

The Year 2000 which was so much heralded only a short year ago is almost itself now a part of history.

The journey through the New Millennium for some of us has started positively, for others boldly, for others with anxiety about the future given the vast changes we see around us daily. Some of these changes we have been advised about for over twenty years such as those affecting the banana industry which has been a part of so many of our lives for such a long time.

Other of those changes have been more subtle and crept up upon us quietly but are just as significant, such as the increase in the levels of our individual and collective expectations for our lives and from our society.

Throughout the past year the Ministry of Health, Human Services, Family Affairs and Gender Relations has itself felt the effect of these transformations. Today I want to focus on probably the most important change that I have seen within my portfolios - a transformation that is cause for much celebration.

This change has centered not around the improvements to the A & E Department, the new management structure at Victoria Hospital or the purchase of a Shelter for Abused Women, or any other structural addition or variation in the Health Service.

It has centered around the more focused, the more committed and efficient approach from the professionals who staff St. Lucia's Health Care System.

It has been said that it is easier to change institutions and the laws that govern them than it is to change people and customs. I am pleased to say here today that along with the positive transformations and efficiencies that we have seen manifest in the structures of the Health Institutions in St. Lucia that we are now witnessing the tremendous burst of enthusiasm, effort and energy that our Doctors, Nurses, Administrative Staff, Orderlies, Drivers are exuding as they place their collective shoulders to the wheel of our medical System.

From our Hospitals, Health Centers, the Ambulance Service, Administrative Centers our people have responded positively to the structural changes and the increase in resources that have been placed in the system.

It has not all been smooth sailing.

We have had to replace square pegs that were in round holes. This is never easy irrespective of the individuals output level but we have always had to think of the collective good of the nation.

We have had to change patterns of control by some individuals who had over the years developed their own set of rules governing their relationship in institutions.

We have had to apply limited resources in some areas while delaying implementation in others which means that some of our staff have not seen as much resource allocation activity in their departments as in others.

We have had to delay implementation of some programs that are sorely needed but have been hindered by the necessity to first change the structure or laws governing the activity, otherwise simply applying money would only result in wastage.

We have had to ruffle some feathers as changes began to be implemented in areas because as any sociologist knows change may be good but is not always accepted.

In spite of this all we are seeing the generation of new ideas and the coming on board of persons across the spectrum which is a cause for us to celebrate our efforts during this Christmas Season.

The best way for me to express this view is to recount some of the many positive personal experiences that are related to me on a daily basis from the public.

The gentleman who called the Environmental Health Office, and was told that someone would be in his community to see him on a particular Thursday to examine his problem. He told me that he was surprised and quite elated when an officer in fact turned up at his doorstep at the appointed time. He said to me that this was when he knew that something was happening positively at the Ministry.

The gentleman from Canaries by the name of Cletus J Paul who had been unable to collect some medical records at Victoria Hospital for some time, met with a member of staff recently and his problem was resolved within the time previously stipulated. His letter of thanks is on file.

The thousands of persons who have been surprised and amazed at the 24/7 attendance at the A & E Department of doctors and nurses and the tremendously shortened waiting period.

The 100% attendance and support by the Victoria Hospital Accident & Emergency personnel of the Sandals-sponsored customer training program. This was a particular initiative I was very happy with as the manager of Sandals Mr. Franklyn Eaton responded immediately once we asked that world-rated hotel group for their assistance. Imagine who would have thought that we would one day have the first class service methodology of one of the worlds finest hotels being transferred to the staff of our premier medical institution.

The new sense of vitality could be seen at the Victoria Hospital just this Sunday when Her Excellency the Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy visited and experienced the enthusiasm and professionalism with which the staff prepared for and attended during the visit.

This enthusiasm and energy can be seen with the work being done by the Friends of Victoria, the Friends of The Golden Hope Hospital and all the other charitable organisations affiliated to my Ministry and its work.

We can therefore sit down for a few minutes these holidays knowing that there is focus, determination and energy in the Ministry of Health by the individuals who staff the service.

I also believe that aside from the renewed vigor Ministry personnel are aware that the battle has just started. Besides the need for additional scarce resources there are still areas where the full message of cooperation and our results-oriented focus has not reached. Even though attitudes are beginning to alter and as we begin to see the need for positive results from our efforts we still are aware of how much more we can and will accomplish in the coming years.

We must remember that the most important first step has been taken and this has been the attainment of the knowledge of the need to improve, to adjust, to be more efficient in our use of resources and in the service we offer to the St. Lucian public.

Recently I have been particularly heartened by the hundreds of phonecalls and personal expressions of concern by the men, women and even children of St. Lucia and my constituents of Central Castries over the crass, vindictive and violent personal attacks disguised as journalism- aimed at me directly and through my Ministerial Portfolios.

I would like to again re-assure all of you who are so concerned that I took on the political life knowing that it could be difficult, dirty and unyielding but that I remain steadfastly committed to serving my country through politics which I regard as a vocation. My priority is the health and welfare of my people in St. Lucia.

We can expect these attacks to continue and probably intensify in the coming year particularly with the possibility of Elections within the next fifteen months.

My one concern relative to the societal destructiveness of this negative campaign is that by extension it also targets the hard working and motivated individuals who staff St. Lucia's various health and human service institutions.

No account will be made of where we are today compared with where we were yesterday, we will be attacked on one point today and the opposite point tomorrow, we will be accused today of spending too much money to improve facilities and tomorrow indicted for not doing enough, our civil servants will be criticised for being inefficient but when we institute and rationalize new systems we will be accused of upsetting the system. We will be accused of having poor third world country resources and then blamed for not providing health services at a 1st world standard. With our limited resources and in a very limited period of time we will fix 95% of problems at an institution but be taken to task for not fixing the last 5%.

These attacks I can assure you will not faze me and I ask all our health professionals to ignore this negative agenda aimed at denigrating our society. I will be working as diligently as before to provide the best health care possible for our people, with your support throughout the next year.

I would like to thank those professional media houses and journalists who from January to December have worked with the Ministry of Health, Human Services, Family Affairs and Gender Relations to truthfully report issues as they come up. These reports have sometimes been flattering to my Ministry and other times not - but they have been balanced and without malice or personal agendas. It has been a pleasure working with you over the year.

Throughout the year one of the consistent pillars of support I have been able to depend upon has been my constituents of Central Castries. Whether visiting a grandmother or grandfather, mother or father, daughter or son in the CDC Apartments, La Cou Gordon, Wiltons Yard, Grass Street, Riverside Road, Bacafai, Chaussee Road or any other community I am more rejuvenated after the visit than before.

We are in the process of finalizing a number of pathways in the Constituency, and the repair of a number of homes older persons. Unfortunately we will not be finished before Christmas but this something we can look forward to for the start of the new year.

I look forward to serving you better in the New Year and will see a number of you during Christmas.

I would like to express my special thanks to the St Lucia Labour Party Central Castries Constituency Group. We had at least 35 well attended meetings for the year, and some of you were there at almost every meeting. This is a wonderful sense of commitment.

We always remember at Christmas that the lovely innocent boy born to a virgin would grow up one day to save the world from sin. Let us this year recognize that as this young man grew up he went through many moments of change when his own society went through transformation but he held steadfast in the belief in his father and his mission.

For us all my wish is that we show this level of steadfastness in the coming year and work together to improve our country. Our fast paced Society is much different than it was years ago; we are learning slowly how to attain the efficiencies that we need to make the most of our limited resources in the future. The past year has been a record of shared success and steady progress in my Ministries and a true tribute to co-operative efforts. I am happy to have at the Ministry Of Health, Human Services, Family Affairs and Gender Relations individuals who have now become part of that transformation for the betterment of St. Lucia and look forward to us all working together to attain even greater efficiencies in 2001.

Have a merry Christmas!

 

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