…as Rehab Week is observed
Fifty years ago, the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre was a small operation catering
to the needs of persons who had fallen victim to poliomyelitis [polio]. The infectious disease, which has had deadly outcomes, has also been referred to as infantile paralysis, since it has been known to attack mainly children. But the Centre 50 years later has evolved considerably.
This is according to the Rehabilitation Officer in charge of the daily operation of the Centre, Ms. Cynthia Massay. During an interview with this publication on Wednesday, Massay disclosed that the Centre started its jubilee celebration since January.
The celebratory mode started off with an interfaith service and brunch. A number of other activities have since been held in observance of its 50 years of existence. Wednesday was the most recent, which saw Minister of Public Health, Ms. Volda Lawrence, touring the facility as part of Rehabilitation Week which is currently being observed under the theme “Reaching out, empowering communities.”
Even as she spoke of the evolution of the Centre, Massay disclosed that “it has now become a national rehabilitation complex, because it has grown beyond what it was. It is an organisation that provides rehabilitation services firstly to children with physical and development disabilities”.
In fact the facility today provides a range of services including: speech therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. The centre also provides temporary accommodation for some children who arrive there on Monday mornings and return to the care of their families on Friday afternoons.
Prosthetic Appliance Workshop. According to Massay, “that workshop caters to all persons in Guyana who need prosthetic and orthotics [devices].”
“When we started as a little polio centre there was a little unit for that, now we have a whole new shop….it’s a big shop that provides to the entire population of persons with disabilities that need our service,” Massay said.
The Board-operated Centre receives an annual subvention from Government which also pays the salaries of the health and teaching staff at the facilities. Currently about 60 individuals make up the health staff and 12 represent the teaching staff.
However, since the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre is registered as a not for profit non-governmental organisation, those accessing the services are expected to pay a user charge. But according to Massay, “it is not the true economic cost, because all they pay for is the replacement materials; they don’t pay for labour, overheads or anything else.”
However, Massay informed that “we don’t deny any person an appliance because they can’t afford it, because we have a number of safety nets.” Among its supporters are the Ministry of Social Protection, the Ministry of Public Health and a few other organisations.
Currently the Centre has been working closely with the Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Church to facilitate a project which will see the church, based on the Centre’s recommendation, paying for the appliance for an individual in need.
Stressing the importance of the Centre, Vice Chairman of the Centre’s Board of Directors, Mr. John Browman, said that “the public at large in Guyana needs to ensure that it utilises the information that we have been putting out about the Centre, because the Centre offers a range of activities that are badly needed in our society.”
He continued, “I believe that the difficulties, however, might well be in terms of the fact that people do not really look on the persons who are differently challenged in the way that they should, and we suffer as a result in that regard.”
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