Tue | Jun 6, 2023

JPS denies blame for delay at Portland Cottage Health Centre

Published:Saturday | October 22, 2022 | 12:07 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston/Gleaner Writer

Electricity distributor Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) has denied claims by May Pen Mayor Winston Maragh that it is to be blamed for the delay in the resumption of operations at the Portland Cottage Health Centre in Clarendon.

Maragh levelled the accusation during last Thursday’s meeting of the Clarendon Municipal Corporation, where he said that the power provider has been dragging its feet, forcing operators of the clinic to return to regulatory authorities thrice to renew its certification.

The building was reportedly repaired three years ago.

But Audrey Williams, public relations manager at the JPS, said that the relevant personnel at the Southern Regional Health Authority were informed in April this year that the certificate received from the Government Electrical Inspectorate had expired in December 2021. Williams said that JPS is not yet in receipt of the updated certification, which is a critical safety requirement.

At last week’s meeting, Maragh said he was in the dark about the hold-up.

“JPS cannot tell us what the issue is why the health centre cannot be connected to the electricity and as a result of that, the residents from the community in Portland Cottage are suffering because they have no health centre,” said Maragh, adding that local authorities have been getting the run-around with unfulfilled promises.

Maragh also said that he had been sending documents to JPS customer service agents at the Mandeville office to no avail.

“The health centre is still there not being able to operate and the Portland Cottage people have to go to Lionel Town (hospital) so there is serious overcrowding at Lionel Town as a result,” the mayor said.

Joseph Grant, parish manager for the Clarendon Health Services, corroborated Maragh’s account of the multiple attempts to get electricity installed at the premises.

“We had the building certified and take in the documentation and they were claiming that there is no proof of ownership,” Grant said, adding that JPS did not accept the documents until the certification expired.

“I went back and got another one and had it certified a second time, took back the documentation, took back the certification to JPS to the May Pen branch (before they moved). The certification again expired,” he said, noting that he was recently called for additional documentation. as well as another round of certification.

JPS, however, has a contrary account.

Williams said that JPS attended an April 7, 2022, town hall meeting for the wider community, including Portland Cottage.

“The matter of the clinic’s operation was raised by a member of the community leadership. JPS followed up the following day and informed him that the authorised personnel needed to submit a letter on the health ministry’s letterhead, as well as a current Government Electrical Inspectorate certificate, in order to have the clinic connected,” the public relations officer said.

Subsequent to this discussion, Williams said that both the community member and JPS customer care area manager, Fiona Johnson, made attempts to contact Grant, the parish manager of the Clarendon Heath Department, without success.

She said that the JPS manager detailed, in a written correspondence, the requirements, which were shared with the community member, identified only as a ‘Mr Reid’.

“On April 26, 2022, the JPS manager received an email from Mr Joseph Grant, with a number of documents, including a certificate from the Government Electrical Inspectorate, which was dated December 9, 2020, and which was, therefore, expired, as of December 8, 2021,” she said.

The email, Williams said, was responded to immediately, pointing out that the certificate had expired.

Williams noted that on May 2, Johnson received a response from parish administrative officer Simone Harris Williams acknowledging receipt with a promise to “follow up”.

“JPS has received nothing since,” Williams told The Gleaner.

Commenting on the allegations made at the municipal meeting last Thursday, Williams said the customer care area manager requested feedback from the persons who made the claim, but none was received.

“She also reached out to the parish administrative officer, who said they did not, in fact, have any new certificate since the expired one back in 2021. This is a matter of great concern to JPS,” Williams said, while questioning why Clarendon health authorities had not sought to escalate the matter.

“Clearly such a matter would be a priority, both for JPS and the Ministry of Health. The delay in getting the relevant documentation is inexplicable. The company’s teams look forward to receiving the necessary certification so that the clinic can be connected,” she concluded.