As the first Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) Rehabilitation Services Week officially opened, Monday, September 24, 2018, Catherine Weech, Managing Director, PHA, assured rehabilitative professionals that improving the quality of rehabilitative services in the Bahamas is an integral element of health services strengthening. “The many challenges you face, particularly with respect to equipment procurement and equipment maintenance, lack of physical space and the need to scale up recruitment of rehabilitative professionals are front and center at the highest levels of the PHA,” said Ms. Weech. The aim of the week is to increase public awareness of what rehabilitation is, what it does, who can benefit from it. Members of the PHA, physiotherapists and hospital administrators attended the ceremony at PHA’s Corporate Office. The theme for Rehabilitation Services Week is ‘Rehab: Your Progress is Our Passion.’ Former and present rehabilitation healthcare workers who have contributed to the development of rehabilitative care to patients were also recognized during the event.
In her remarks, the director urged the rehabilitation service workers to work to forge relationships with the University of The Bahamas to introduce the relevant allied health programs into the curriculum in the future. She suggested the creation of a working group or committee of professionals to spearhead issues to ensure that The Bahamas is in a position to meet the demands for care, now and in the future. She gave them the assurance of the support of the PHA and the Ministry of Health. Ms. Weech acknowledged the organizing committee responsible for Rehabilitation Services Week. “Only your colleagues will have any idea of the dedication and skills required to help your patients make progress toward their individualized health outcomes. Only your families will understand the relentless hours of hard work invested in improving the lives of the patients in your care,” she said. In her welcome, Heather Hanlan, Director, Rehabilitation Services, explained that rehabilitation comprises a set of specialized interventions that are designed to optimize functioning and reduce disability in individuals with health conditions and may include circumstances of aging, pregnancy, stress, congenital anomaly or genetic predisposition. nMiss Hanlan said according to the World Health Organization, fifteen percent of the world’s population live with a disability. According to the 2010 Census, in The Bahamas, over 10,000 persons with disabilities reside here. “It should come as no surprise that here in The Bahamas there is a total of only 115 licensed rehab professionals, inclusive of the public and private sectors, serving a population of 400,000. It is noteworthy to know only 30 of these professionals work within the public healthcare system.
“It is, therefore, no mystery why it is important to raise public awareness of this often overlooked element of our public health system. “With continued medical advancements, improvement of our health services, the aging population and the increase in chronic non-communicable diseases within The Bahamas, more people are living longer and with a disability. This means in addition to focusing our health services on reducing mortality, we have to simultaneously ensure that people get the best possible outcome after injury or illness. Rehabilitation is a key component in meeting this objective,” said the director. She affirmed PHA’s commitment to strengthening the development of occupational therapy, recreational therapy, physiotherapy, speech language, pathology, audiology, and respiratory therapy within the PHA and community. Rehab services are currently offered within the PHA at the following: The Princess Margaret Hospital: Physiotherapy, respiratory therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy (limited) Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre: Occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and recreational therapy.