This was the common thread interwoven through the statements made during a tour of the construction site of the new facility on October 08, commencing with Honourable Wendy Phipps, Minister of State with responsibility for Health and Social Development.
“It is something that has been a long while in coming, and I am also proud of the fact that it would be both sides of the Ministry that I have the privilege to lead – meaning Health as well as Social Services that would be undertaking this venture,” she said. “And it basically enhances the thrust of our government in terms of the holistic approach to health care and also the dignity that should accompany the care of persons with mental disorders, bearing in mind that mental illness is not a respecter of persons – it can happen to anybody, and the way we treat it is indicative of the regard we have for people who are our greatest national resource.”
Osbert DeSuza, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, noted that the construction phase of the building is approximately 60 percent complete and commended the rate of construction. As the immediate past project manager of the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF), Mr. DeSusa was also able to speak with authority concerning the project that had been proposed to the BNTF by the former Minister of Health and as such the fund had approached the Caribbean Development Bank for funding.
Once that had been approved, BNTF had mobilized a consultant and all the necessary processes had been put in place to deliver the project. Unfortunately, he noted, there had been several obstacles that caused the project to be delayed including the death of Murchison Best who had been the assigned engineering consultant.
The Permanent Secretary specially thanked the nurses based at the Basseterre Health Centre for their advice and expressed the desire that “the facility be used effectively, that appropriate maintenance will be put in place and that qualified and empathetic persons would be engaged in the management and day-to-day operation of the facility.” He expressed pleasure with the building’s progress.
“This project has been in the making for quite a number of years,” Mr. DeSuza noted, referencing that the progress was commendable and an example that could be emulated. “I want to basically commend the Mental Health Association for being a part of this project, the Ministry of Health and the Basic Needs Trust Fund.”
Michelle De La Coudray-Blake, Director of Counseling of the Ministry of Social Development, also referred to maintaining the dignity of the persons who would be using the Day Treatment Centre.
“This is going to be a centre used to help to facilitate the health and well-being of persons with mental illness,” Mrs. De La Coudray-Blake said. “The Mental Health Association especially, is very, very keen about this building, about this project because, especially in this year, the theme for mental health is: “Mental Health with Dignity.” … And we’re certainly happy about where we’re at, and we’re certainly happy that we can take mental health issues and carry it a step forward to make sure that people are treated with dignity.”
Colin Mallalieu, a member of the St. Kitts Mental Health Association, was pleased with the construction of the facility.
“I congratulate the ministry, I think it’s a fantastic move; it’s a great facility and it will be of great use to the Mental Health Association,” he said, noting that a good team had brought it to fruition.
The sentiments of those gathered were expressed by Minister Phipps who said she looked forward to the completion of the building, its opening and then the commissioning of the facility for the end-users for whom it was intended.