Clients who are unable to take care of themselves and have no home or no family to attend to their needs are eligible for admission to the Infirmary. The programme is geared towards the provision of nutrition, transportation and medical assistance to these citizens of the parish, and is occupied primarily by the aged.
The St. James Infirmary is located about 5 minutes drive from downtown Montego Bay. It is the second left turn from the Cornwall College playground and is erected on the Albion property.
Facilities include two wards for males and females, an administrative block, a chapel, staff quarters and a separate dwelling for street people.
The matron’s quarters are located in a house at the first left turn on the main road before reaching the entrance to the infirmary. The main contact person at the facility is Matron Jacqueline Wilson.
The Infirmary was founded in 1865 under the name ‘Poor House’ and in 1880 that name was changed to ‘Alms House’. In 1960, the present name ‘Infirmary’ was introduced, more correctly describing the function of the institution.
The Infirmary presently accommodates destitute people both male and females between the ages of 27 to 96 (the majority are seniors) and has a capacity for 85 residents.
Residents receive total care which includes a medical doctor who visits once per week and a mental health officer who visits and assesses all mentally ill residents and medication issued. Clinic appointments and emergencies are dealt with at the Cornwall Regional Hospital. Residents receive three meals per day, and clothing is provided by Food for the Poor and other donors.
Whenever possible, staff tries to locate relatives to ascertain if residents can be cared for by family members for home care. Burial services are also offered.
The Friends of the Infirmary assist in this area by employing an Activities Director whose responsibility is to get the residents active in areas of work that they enjoy. Activities include indoor and outdoor games, arts & crafts and daily devotion. Eight residents participate in a bocce, a ball game, which is specially organized by the Special Olympics Jamaica for the mentally challenged. During 2000 and 2001, eight residents participated in the bocce competition; all came out winners and received 2 gold medals each year.
Facts about the infirmary…
- The number of people on the waiting list fluctuates. As of February 2002, there were four persons awaiting placement. Space only becomes available when a resident leaves or dies.
- The length of stay of a resident is indefinite, but usually residents remain in the infirmary for the rest of their lives. Few residents are discharged to relatives, although this does happen occasionally. In the past few years, the maximum number of residents discharged this way is three.