By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
FORMER Managing Director of the Public Hospitals Authority Herbert Brown is a "visionary leader" who made health care development a "priority" during his near 50 year career in the public health care system, Health Minister Dr Duane Sands has said.
Speaking during a special retirement luncheon for Mr Brown at the Balmoral Club on Friday, Dr Sands heralded Mr Brown's 47 years in the public healthcare system, calling it a "story that celebrates the value of individual human potential, as well as the merits of teamwork and mentorship."
Dr Sands especially credited the Abraham's Bay, Mayaguana native for his devotion to the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, noting that Mr Brown's initial entrance into public healthcare via that facility in the 1970s came amidst a widespread stigma against the centre as the "Crazy Hill."
"This stigma could reflect not only on patients of the institution but on its staff and volunteers as well," Dr Sands said.
"Yet, a young, determined Herbert Brown dedicated himself to serving Sandilands and its patients with compassion and vigour.
"Indeed, I believe if we were to look back over Mr Brown's many visits to his beloved Sandilands over the years as managing director, we would be hard-pressed to find subjects he refers to more frequently than combating stigma against the mentally ill and offering service with compassion and care to the patents in our charge.
"I am positive that this is no coincidence, but rather a reflection of the years he spent as part of the nursing support services interacting with staff and patients on a daily basis."
Dr Sands said Mr Brown's "faithful service" carried over as he ascended to the rank of either assistant and/or deputy hospital administrator in all three of the nation's public hospitals, and eventually to the hospital administrator for the Rand Memorial Hospital in Grand Bahama, Sandilands, and then the Chief hospital administrator for the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH).
That was followed by his appointment as PHA Managing Director in 2002, after some 32 years of service up to that point. Subsequent to that appointment, Mr Brown oversaw a number of key healthcare initiatives, such as the official launch of the Critical Care Block, the Child and Adolescent and Robert Smith (CARS) Complex at Sandilands, as well as the expansion of the Rand Memorial Hospital.
"However, if we were to simply focus on the many infrastructural and capital improvements undertaken at public hospitals and agencies across the PHA we would miss the very soul of Herbert Brown's service to this nation," Dr Sands continued. "One of his greatest contributions to public healthcare is an unflagging insistence upon excellence.
"At every level of our public health facilities, quality and excellence should be the watchwords of our efforts. To put it most simply, Herbert Brown is convinced that there is no good reason there should be a differentiation in standards and quality of care between public health facilities and private."
Mr Brown, in his remarks, reflected on the 15 years he spent as PHA Managing Director and thanked the various "colleagues, mentors and friends" who helped him "grow into the best job I could have dreamed of."
"Together, we have built a legacy of which we can all be proud," he said. "For nearly a decade the (PHA) has enjoyed a period of unprecedented growth and modernization which crescendoed with the construction of a 21st-century hospital facility - the Critical Care Block at the Princess Margaret Hospital campus.
"We have also overcome significant challenges to expand and improve the physical footprints of the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre and Rand Memorial Hospital. Medical, diagnostic, pharmacy and laboratory services have all been upgraded across the (PHA), with increased investments in state-of-the-art equipment, and training.
"Progress has been made modernizing and upgrading the ambulance fleet in New Providence and Grand Bahama, and every day we are a little bit further along in the implementation of the new Integrated Health Information Management System, set to go live in the very near future.
"… None of these accomplishments could have been executed without the full support of employees, partners, vendors and volunteers," he added. "To quote the former chief executive of Microsoft, 'it is not about one person; it's about the company.' In our context, I believe I can paraphrase by saying, 'it is not about one person, it is about our PHA family.'"
Last week, Dr Sands told The Tribune Mr Brown's seemingly abrupt retirement coincided with the upcoming completion of his contract with the government. When asked whether Mr Brown was asked to demit office, Dr Sands said his retirement was voluntary.
However, he noted the former managing director had accumulated some 20 weeks of vacation time, and had been mandated to take it.