Tears amidst praises
Services of retiring health staff heralded
Today, a few tears were shed, praises shared, and words of gratitude expressed as the Ministry of Health said goodbye to four long-standing officers.
Chief Environmental Health Officer Tyrone Applewhaite, personnel officer Lorna Skeete, advisory and inspection team coordinator for private hospitals and nursing homes Angela Crawford and executive secretary Sonia Sealy were all toasted for their overall 150 years’ contribution to the Civil Service and especially for their service to health care in Barbados.
At a retirement function held at the auditorium of the ministry in the Frank Walcott Building in Culloden Road, St Michael, these four outstanding individuals, who have demonstrated exemplary service and brought about change in their respective fields, were thanked by top officials, including Minister of Health John Boyce, Permanent Secretary Tennyson Springer and Chief Medical Officer Dr Joy St John.
Boyce, who described such leaving as a challenging experience, wished the four a happy retirement, nonetheless adding that he believed they would all be successful in whatever new paths they determined to take.
He also thanked the retirees for going beyond the call of duty and holding strain when changes occurred and whenever resources and tools to work with appeared to be limited.
“Resources may not allow us at all times to reach the pinnacles which we set, but as long as the standard which we maintain is sufficient to ensure the health and care of our people, then we have a wonderful starting point,” Boyce said.
Commending Applewhaite for his work in leading his department to ensure Barbados maintained a healthy environment, Permanent Secretary Springer indicated that it was unfortunate the Chief Environmental Health Officer was not staying around to see the completion of the establishment of the Environmental Health section as a department in the Ministry of Health.
“I think he has very good ideas, strong leadership; and I think he would have been very successful if he sought to move the department a little bit further faster. But, I think he has set the pace. The road has been paved and somebody has to take up the pace and move from there. I think the nature of life is people move on,” Springer said.
The permanet secretary added: “My presence here and my willingness to speak is a testimony to your effectiveness as four officers, and my love for you as co-workers in the ministry.”
All of the retirees, in their responses, expressed their sadness to be leaving the ministry; however they were grateful to have received the opportunity to serve their country well. They also hoped for the best in the ministry’s development.
Applewhaite, who has worked in the Public Service for 35 years, has played “a significant role” in strategic and programme planning in the ministry, being selected in 2001 on a committee of planners responsible for the development of the Ministry of Health Strategic Plan 2002-2012, the first of its kind in the public sector.
Applewhaite was presented as always embracing change to ensure optimum utilization of financial and human resources in the ministry, as had been demonstrated “by the high level of commitment, passion and motivation he has shown throughout his career”.
Sealy who joined the service in 1979 having worked in Civil Aviation and Ministry of Tourism as a stenographer/typist was assigned to the Barbados Drug Service in 2003.
However, the then permanent secretary who knew of Sealy’s competencies, having worked with her when she first joined the service, chose Sonia to work with him. In 2007, she was promoted to her current position and has been known to be “as confidential as the word confidential itself”.
Skeete, who entered the service in 1971, was promoted to personnel officer in 2000, acted as senior personnel officer on many occasions and performed “exceptionally in all capacities”.
It was said that Skeete’s long service in that department had given her a wealth of knowledge and she could be relied on to give advice and guidance at the senior and junior levels because of her institutional memory.
Crawford, a registered nurse, worked in Canada, returning in 1986 to Barbados, where she continued in the area of health care, eventually becoming the Port health nurse. In 1996 she joined the Boston University Team on the Health Sector Reform Project as a psychogeriatric nurse and also worked at PAHO for a little while where she held responsibility for ten countries in quality management immunization.
The retirees not only received commendations, but also tangible gifts from their colleagues.