A new array of surgery services will soon be available to physically challenged children. The Princess Elizabeth Home on Ariapita Avenue launched its new orthopaedic theatre and surgical ward on April 27.
At the opening ceremony at the home, its president Clement Imbert said, “The home started with a gift from Queen Elizabeth, who was a princess at the time of her engagement to Prince Philip.
"At the time many children were affected by poliomyelitis. and she said the best gift we could give to her was to establish a home in TT to rehabilitate the afflicted children. Hence the name of the institution.”
Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the polio virus. The virus spreads from person to person and can infect the spinal cord, causing paralysis.
On the progress of the home. Imbert said, “We have had many additions and improvements over the years, offering new services such as orthopaedic hand surgeries and dental services. Both of these need to recommence and expand to serve other children’s homes.”
Imbert gave credit to the Rotary Club of Port of Spain for establishing the dental facility in 2012.
“In 1953 this institution was managed by a position called 'superintendent,' which speaks to the colonial days. However, the menu of services grew from a rehabilitative home to include a nursery and primary school and various medical services.”
Chair of the Scotiabank TT Foundation Roxanne De Freitas said, “As a member of the Scotiabank family, I feel such an overwhelming sense of pride to know that we have been able to play a part in seeing this new ward and operating theatre come to fruition.
“The new ward will increase the capacity and efficiency of orthopaedic and rehabilitation services for an estimated 1,200 physically challenged children annually. It will also house the surgical wards, operating theatre and the clinic under one roof, helping improve efficiency and patient quality care.”
On disabilities she said, “Persons with handicaps and disabilities are one of the most excluded and marginalised groups and often face multiple challenges in realising their full potential. Every year, through surgery and rehabilitation the Princess Elizabeth Home helps remove barriers for young people so they can flourish and participate in society. Scotiabank shares this commitment to helping promote opportunity, participation and inclusion.”
Giving a breakdown of cost, president of the Children’s Ark Simone de la Bastide said the organisation did not expect to complete the project within a year as it required over $1 million.
She said sponsors included, as well as the Scotiabank TT Foundation, RBCTT, the Digicel Foundation, Uhrenholt, Medcorp, Nutrien, Brian MacFarlane, the House of Jaipur, the Royal College of Nairobi alumni and others.
The internal structure, including staircases, was demolished before plans were changed and the new extension of 12,000 square feet was added to house the operating theatre and adjacent rooms.
She said, “In order to meet the target opening date the Children’s Ark agreed to design, manage and work the theatre extension at an added cost of just under $0.5 million, which we were eventually reimbursed by the Princess Elizabeth Home.”
The Children’s Ark is a registered charitable, non-profit organisation specifically catering to the needs of marginalised and at-risk children, within our society.
Speaking on governmental input, Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh said taxpayers would have donated $3 million over three years through the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP).
He said, “The ministry’s strategic plan, found in the alma mater declaration of 1978, is that healthcare should be accessible as much as humanly possible to all. It is my hope that this orthopaedic ward will increase that accessibility.
“We continue to perform miracles in the public healthcare system every day and it goes unnoticed.
“The population of TT and all the commentators that comment on the public healthcare system will never appreciate what goes into providing free healthcare.”