Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie says that following discussions with the Ministry of Finance, a decision has been taken for some 16 dieticians to be placed in infirmaries across Jamaica to offer better nutritional care to the persons housed in those facilities.McKenzie made the announcement while addressing an awards ceremony for 105 poor-relief workers at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James on Thursday.
The ceremony was part of a series of activities for Local Government Month. It also acknowledged poor-relief workers who have provided long service to the country’s poor-relief departments.“The junior mayors, in their discussions with me, indicated that they feel that the diet in the infirmaries is not right and they need a dietician. I am pleased to announce that the Ministry of Finance has granted us permission to put in, for the first time in our infirmaries, 16 dieticians overall,” said McKenzie.“We’re doing what we knew should have been done to improve the conditions in our infirmaries. We’re not just talking about loving the poor because you can’t love without money and you can’t love on hungry bellies,” added McKenzie, who did not give a timeline for the installation of the dieticians.There are some 500 persons employed in Jamaica’s infirmaries to care for the approximately 1,500 residents who have fallen on hard times or have developed various illnesses and require care at these facilities. McKenzie also pledged to provide adequate representation for increased salaries for nurses who work in Jamaica’s infirmaries to a similar level with nurses who currently work in the country’s public hospitals.“What you’re getting as salary is not adequate, and that is why at times we can’t retain some of the qualified and skilled professionals, like the registered nurses, that you need in the system. The discussions on improvement in salaries are well advanced, and we’re now well out of the blocks in terms of discussions as it relates to bringing up registered nurses to the same level as those who work in our public hospitals across the country,” said McKenzie.