By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
THE doctors and nurses of the Accident and Emergency Department at the Rand Memorial Hospital in Grand Bahama delivered gifts and treats to residents of the West End community as part of their annual gift giving during the Christmas season.
The group of 14 doctors and nurses went into the community on Friday, December 30, and presented gifts to a number of families at the St Mary’s Magdalene Anglican Church in West End.
Dr Michelle Sweeting of the A&E section said the doctors decided to give back to the residents of West End because of the devastation in that community caused by Hurricane Matthew.
“We recognised that West End was (damaged) by the Hurricane Matthew and we decided that instead of having a Christmas party this year, to take the little we have and share it with you,” she told residents.
The annual giveback started in 2013 when A&E doctors raised and donated $10,000 to help Filipinos affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Since then, the doctors and nurses have also made donations to the homes for the elderly and to hurricane victims in the southern Bahamas.
Sherone Singh, of Grand Bahama Health Services, said that through the gift giving they hope to spread kindness and love to the residents who have been through so much.
“The doctors enjoy doing this year after year; they enjoyed wrapping the gifts. We know that you have been through some valleys due to Hurricane Matthew and we want to say that we are here for you,” Ms Singh said.
She said that last year the doctors went to Mayaguana and provided health care and distributed relief items to residents there following Hurricane Joaquin.
Canon Curtis Robinson, rector of St Mary’s Magdalene Church, was very grateful for the gesture of love.
“It is truly awesome what they had done. I have never seen doctors do this kind of thing. They have been doing this for three years and now they have come to West End,” he said.
“I must say it is very encouraging to see that instead of just being healers of body, they are also healers of the mind to boost the spirits of the people in West End because they need to be boosted,” he said.
Canon Robinson took over as priest at St Mary Magdalene in September, a month before Hurricane Matthew devastated the West End community.
When about the community’s recovery, he said: “Recovery is going well because we know we have to take it one day at a time, we can’t rush it, but my whole thing is seeing the spirit of West End come back.”
Despite the loss of property, he said that people are not complaining and are sharing what they have with one another.
“You don’t hear anyone complaining - they go from day to day. Whatever we have we share with each other,” he said.
Canon Robinson said that power and water services have been restored.
“We don’t have telephone, but no one is complaining about that because it will come.”
He said that the storm affected everyone in Grand Bahama. “Everyone was in the same boat together. And it is times like this when we truly show who we are as Christians. The storm does not discriminate. It is not about any political affiliation, or social status, everyone got it,” he said.
Sandra Mortimer-Russell, deputy hospital administrator, said when she drove down to West End after the hurricane, she saw devastation first hand.
“We must give God thanks because not one life was lost during the storm,” she said.
She then told residents that they can soon look forward to a newly renovated West End Clinic.
Last March, the government signed a $1 million contract for renovation and upgrades of the West End Community Clinic.
West End resident Crystal Hart was very grateful for the gifts and treats provided by the doctors.
“We suffered a lot since Hurricane Matthew and this has really helped to uplift us and our children spirits. We really appreciate everything they had done,” she said.
Ms Hart said Christmas was rough last year.
“We had to make some sacrifices, and as a parent I tried to make the best of it and the kids understand that there was only so much we could do this year, but God was able to provide something for them through the doctors,” she said.