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In nurse’s name

The Warrens Polyclinic has been renamed in honour of former nurse, the late Eunice Gibson.

At a ceremony last weekend, Minister of Health Donville Inniss, described the renaming ceremony as “an important milestone”, accorded in recognition of the significant contribution nurses have, and continue to make, to the local health care system.

“It is interesting to note that not only is this polyclinic the first to be named after a nurse, and a woman, but it was the first multi-purpose clinic in Barbados, opened on April 5, 1976, based on the primary health care model… It is also the fulfillment of a commitment I made in my very early days in the ministry to ensure that nurses are given the appropriate recognition for the outstanding work that they have been doing in this country,” he noted.

The minister told the gathering of nurses, family members of Gibson, and other health care workers, that this island’s polyclinics had evolved over time, and nurses continued to play a “pivotal role” in the evolution of the polyclinic system.

“Polyclinics have moved from mere health centres, providing curative and preventative services, to the present day model of more complex and comprehensive community-oriented health care delivery systems, providing educational, promotional, preventative, curative and rehabilitative services. This evolution has been propelled by the desire to meet the needs of people in communities where they live and work,” he stated.

Inniss said the expansion of the primary health care concept had also necessitated changes to the polyclinic system over the years.

“This is evident by the introduction of specialised programmes for men, adolescents, antenatal mothers, diabetics, hypertensives and those who require mental health services. As a consequence of this changing health landscape, we have had to review existing policies and programs with a view towards meeting contemporary health needs.

“The Ministry of Health is currently involved in a process to develop a plan for the renewal of the primary health care strategy here in Barbados. Our challenge as we go forward is not only to find new ways to finance health care, but to design services that will continue to be fair, equitable, inclusive and efficient,” he advised.

The minister emphasised that nurses were integral to the delivery of care within all public and private health care institutions in Barbados and, as envisioned by Gibson, nurses were continually upgrading their skills to effectively cope with new or emerging conditions.

“Today, nurses have certainly positioned themselves to embrace this vision. In the QEH there are nurses with specialised training in diabetes care, oncology, neonatology, ophthalmology and pediatrics; while infection control is a specialty that is practised by nurses across the system,” Inniss remarked.

Gibson founded the Barbados Registered Nurses Association, the Nursing Employment, the District Nursing Service and the Benevolent Fund for Nurses. Through networking between the health and education ministries, she created well known clinics at Carrington Village School and Richmond Secondary School; considered to be the fore-runner of polyclinics today.

Throughout her career, Gibson was bestowed with a number of honours, the foremost being the receipt of the Member of the British Empire for her outstanding contribution to nursing and social development. She passed away in 1974 at the age of 79.

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