BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS — The People Employment Programme (PEP), which was launched by the Federal Government of St. Kitts and Nevis in December last year, on Friday October 11th marked a major milestone with the graduation of 29 nursing attendants it had sponsored in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.
It was a historic moment for both PEP and the Ministry of Health as that was the largest batch of nursing attendants that has been trained at the JN France General Hospital in St. Kitts, and the first batch that had male participants. It was also the first time that the programme had been sponsored by an entity outside of the Ministry of Health.
“You will be recorded in history as the pioneers, being the first males to take part in a course like this and complete it in such a very excellent way,” Health Minister Hon Marcella Liburd said of the four male nursing attendants, as she addressed the graduation ceremony held at the JN France General Hospital. She later presented certificates to the graduands.
“We are indeed very proud of you and we hope that the other men in the community will take example from you to see that nursing is not just about women. Men can be male nurses and very excellent ones at that. So you will certainly go down in history as being in the vanguard of change in the nursing profession here in St. Kitts and Nevis.”
The programme took six weeks and according to PEP’s Project Manager Mr Geoffrey Hanley it was an important journey that was undertaken by the 29 youthful persons who had indicated to the People Employment Programme, when they initially applied, that they had a love of being caregivers.
“You made it: It doesn’t matter where you start off, it is how you end up,” Mr Hanley told the graduands. “I am indeed proud today to be here witnessing yet another historic event that the People Employment Programme would have been able to accomplish, setting history in the medical field being able to have the largest group being trained as nursing attendants and we are proud of all of you.”
On behalf of the People Employment Programme Secretariat, Mr Hanley extended sincere thanks and gratitude to the entire staff at the JNF General Hospital noting it was a dream come true not only for the graduands but for the PEP Secretariat. He gave notice to the hospital authorities that there were still more applications forms at the secretariat from persons expressing the desire to be caregivers.
“The money spent in the People Employment programme is monies well spent, because when I look at the faces this afternoon it is going to make a difference in our health centres throughout the island and at our hospitals, and even at the Cardin Home,” observed Mr Hanley.
“Some of you might even move further and want to start your own business eventually, for being caregivers as you know this is an area now that everybody is looking for somebody who is loving and caring to take care of their elderly.”
JNF Hospital’s Clinical Instructor and Programme facilitator, Mrs Sandra Lestrade-Caines, told the ceremony which was attended by members of the Executive Committee of the Institutional Health-based Services and family members of the graduands that it was the ninth batch of trainees since 2000 following the establishment of the in-service education unit at the JN France General Hospital.
“Earlier this year we were approached by Mr Geoffrey Hanley Project Manager of the People Employment Programme who requested our assistance in the training of persons who were interested in nursing,” observed Mrs Lestrade-Caines. “We are here today to witness another commendable effort of the Institutional Health-based Services in empowering the lives of 29 eager-to-learn and very competitive young adults.”
Mrs Lestrade-Caines’ parting words to the graduands were: “May your love for the profession and people whom we serve continue to blossom.”
Top student was Selena Garnett with a pass rate of 92.2%. Others in order were Anestacia Browne, Nekisha Liburd, Takeda Elliot and Marissia Glasgow who tied for the fourth position, Javin Maynard, Cecemonia Lewis, Antoinette Grant, Joy Codrington, Michelle Warner and Makeida Smithen.
Mrs Sonia Daly-Finley, Director of Institutional Nursing Services, presented the programme’s report on behalf of Mrs Lestrade-Caines.
“Our task as facilitators was rewarding as we saw the development of commitment, dedication, and a sense of pride in accomplishing each field, from reading the thermometer to understanding the sums detected from obtaining the blood pressure readings,” said Mrs Daly-Finley. “We have equipped our nursing attendants to perform their roles and responsibilities efficiently, and honestly.”
Programme’s valedictorian Ms Selena Garnett, who spoke on behalf of the entire class quoted Scriptures, and said that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” She thanked the People Employment Programme for giving them the opportunity to be part of the programme, which “is the first step for us in such a noble profession.”
She also thanked the Executive Committee of the Institutional Health-based Services at the JNF Hospital. Her mother, Ms Louisa Garnett who was among the many relatives of the graduands who attended the ceremony noted: “I knew my daughter was bright, but not this good.”