Annual Governor General’s Christmas Visit to Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre

His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Cornelius A. Smith, Governor General of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas gives his Address during the Annual Christmas Visit to the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, on Wednesday, December 8, 2021. (BIS Photo/Ulric Woodside)

From: Bahamas Information Services

The Annual Governor General’s Christmas Visit to Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre coincided with the 65th Anniversary of that mental health institution. On Wednesday, December 8, 2021, the administration, staff and patients welcomed His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Cornelius A. Smith, the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville, Minister of Health and Wellness, and other officials to an event befitting the theme, “A Season of Reflection and Celebration.”

Staff members performed a catchy tune, “Sandilands Alive at 65”– adapted from the 70s Bee Gees’ classic hit – ‘Stayin Alive’, and displayed a Parade of Professions reflecting the 65-year-old establishment. Music was provided by the Bahamas Department of Corrections Pop Band to further enhance the festive Christmas landscape. The Governor-General expressed words of appreciation for being able to attend the annual event.

“Please accept my sincere thanks for extending this kind invitation to me once again to join the hardworking staff and clients of Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre in your Annual Christmas Service.

“I want you to know that this event has become a staple on my annual calendar, as nothing gives me greater pleasure than to celebrate the Yuletide season with such caring persons,” he said.

Noting with interest the theme, “A Season of Reflection and Celebration,” he said that it “aptly describes the juncture that we find ourselves in at this time.” Added the governor general, “As we transition from strict lockdowns and curfews to a gradual opening of our communities, we should not only reflect on our many challenges that we have encountered over the past year and a half, but also on the many successes and the joys that you have brought to the hundreds of Bahamians under your care.

“We should also celebrate the many improvements you have made to both the physical and working environment that lends to the beauty of this institution.”

Reflecting on its 65 years of existence, the governor general said many in the community are not aware of the variety of professional services being provided. “But, your story must be told, the public must know that in addition to Mental Health and Psychiatric Services, this institution also provides off site community counselling and assessment services,” he urged.

The institution also provides referral services to those who abuse mind-altering substances such as illicit drugs, alcohol and other related substances. “Yours is an essential service to our community, and the critical role that this institution provides to our community cannot be over emphasized and I cannot imagine life without Sandilands,” he said.

Regrettably, said the governor general, mental Illness is a real issue in the society, and the time has come for the nation to bring the stigma of mental illness to an end.

“We must stop this discrimination against those with mental illness and instead provide them with the same care, compassion and dignity that we give our family members who suffer with any other common illness.

“For those of you who are tasked with providing care for those hospitalized, I commend you for your patience, compassion, diligence and commitment to those entrusted in your care,” the governor general said.

He then thanked family members of the staff who work at the institution, for their support especially during challenging times. And, he invoked a moment of silence for staff members who died over the past year, whom he regarded as heroes.

“Our nation is greatly indebted to you for your sacrificial services and on behalf of a grateful nation, let me assure you of our continued prayers and support.

“As we celebrate the miracle birth of Christ during this Yuletide season, let us commit ourselves to following the powerful example of the sacrificial services that our Lord and Savior taught.”

Also present at the ceremony were: Colin Higgs, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health and Wellness; Catherine Weech, Managing Director, Public Hospitals Authority; Andrew Edwards, Chairman, Public Hospitals Authority; Jessica Cartwright, Acting Hospital Administrator; and other senior officials.

More photo highlights below: