The Treasure Beach Community Health Initiative, including the Treasure Beach Community Clinic, is currently running as a partnership between the Hillsborough and Pinellas Osteopathic Societies, the Treasure Beach Women’s Group, BREDS, and the Jamaican government. Over the past twelve years, the program has brought hundreds of doctors, nurses, and medical students to Treasure Beach Jamaica, where they have provided treatment and testing to thousands of individuals, including local students.
Currently, the program has received the support of the Jamaican government, under the guidance of Minister Floyd Green of St. Elizabeth, to open a full-time clinic to serve the area. We have a building in the process of being renovated, have some funds raised for equipment and supplies, and a robust pipeline of medical professionals to call on for support and rotating attendance. It is our intention to route financial donations coming from the US through a US 501c3, American Friends of Jamaica, and those funds would flow to and be overseen by BREDS, a registered Jamaican charitable organization.
Currently, the program is run, supported, and overseen by a small and dedicated group of volunteers based in the US and in Treasure Beach. The majority of those involved have been there from the program’s inception, and are well known to each other and to stakeholders in Treasure Beach. They include Dr. Kenneth Webster, Dr. Omesh Singh, Dr. Sasha Noe, Dr. Miranda Giusti, Dr. Vish Pothula, Rebecca Wiersma, Celeste Anderson, Janet Nichols, Jason Henzell, and many others. Nobody receives any compensation for their work or services, and visiting doctors, nurses, and students pay their own way and generally bring in many needed supplies.
All funds to date that have supported the program’s needs have been raised or donated by this small group, although we are just now beginning to receive outside attention and donations, which we hope to increase by building awareness of the clinic. We run this program on love, prayers, hope, and a shoestring!
The clinic program started even before 2010 and had its beginnings in a group of volunteers from the US, who came to build a structure for the Treasure Beach Women’s Group (TBWG) after Hurricane Ivan destroyed their small building in 2004. That group, organized by Janet Nichols, started the building and with help from many local volunteers and grants written by the Peace Corps, was completed with several small exam rooms built-in as planned. Janet then contacted some nurses and physicians and began taking small groups on medical visits, a program which expanded tremendously
when we became associated with Dr. Ken Webster, director of the Osteopath Society as well as a founder of LeCom, a medical school from which we draw students. Dr. Webster brought the program to
its current size and success, much aided by his connections to doctors Singh, Giusti, Noe, and many others, some of whom originally came as students and returned as physicians. At the same time, the program could not have existed without literally well over a decade of time-consuming on-the-ground work by Rebecca Weirsma, and particularly Celeste Anderson of the TBWG and all of the TBWG’s members. And we continue to be brought forward today by Dr. Vish Pothula, Jason Henzell, and Minister Green, along with other stakeholders such as Principal Opal Alexander-Smith and Mrs. Norma Moxam, who heads the school board. We are excited to continue to move forward and to be a medical resource for the people of Treasure Beach and St. Elizabeth.