The ‘Beautiful View’ – Celebrating God’s Helpers at Bellevue Hospital

Ask the ordinary Jamaican what comes to mind when you say the word, Bellevue, and typically they offer references to a ‘madhouse’, or a place where you get a tin of milk in exchange for carrying in a mentally unstable relative.

But the French word actually means ‘beautiful view,’ and that is certainly the approach Bellevue Hospital’s dedicated social workers have adopted when it comes to serving those in their care. They are indeed God’s helpers who work tirelessly towards creating a ‘beautiful life’ for persons living with a mental illness by reconnecting them to their family as well as community and government services.

Now, in celebration of Social Work Month, Family and Faith Magazine in partnership with the Jamaica Broilers Group is pleased to highlight the high calling of the dedicated social workers at Bellevue Hospital.

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Dedicated social workers at Bellevue Hospital

“I didn’t choose social work, it chose me,” emphasized Mrs. Alleen Smith-Roberts, Medical Social Worker at Bellevue Hospital when asked why she chose the profession, adding that she finds great joy in helping persons with a mental illness to reconnect with their family. “You find that you have lots of persons in our society who are unable to ‘connect’, they are just existing, they are not sure where’s their place and as social workers we help persons to get there,” Mrs. Smith-Roberts explained with conviction.

In addition to ‘finding their place,’ helping clients to secure and maintain employment and access key government services, are other vital goals for social workers. After over twenty-four years in the profession, Barbara McKoy knows quite a bit about human behaviour. She told Family and Faith Magazine that “anyone can become mentally ill; it is not a respecter of persons,” pointing out, for example, that sometimes financial pressure can be traumatic for patients.

“I have a case of a gentleman who was separated from his family. He came into the hospital. He was really a terror to his family. His children didn’t want to have anything to do with him; his wife didn’t want to have anything to do with him because he was so terrible and I was able to assist him with getting his pension and it sort of brought him around because basically his traumatic conditions were brought about by the fact that he doesn’t have the money to spend. So he was really giving everybody a hard time and since he was able to get that pension I haven’t seen him being admitted for a while; he takes his medication, he calls me regularly to keep me updated on what is happening and he seems to be getting on well with his family,” she recounted, smiling.

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Aside from providing this type of ongoing support, for the past 3 years during social work month, the Bellevue social workers, treat patients with special Care Packages filled with personal items, toiletries, non-perishable food and The Best Dressed Chicken from the Jamaica Broilers Group. The company’s Group Public Relations Programmes Officer, Danah Cameron, explained why they were happy to partner with the social workers at Bellevue. “To us [the work they do] emulates who Christ is in such a magnificent way, they truly give of themselves, they speak of their patients as if they are speaking of family, they have such a heart, such a warmth towards these people, it really is moving.”

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Of course, both patients and social workers are also quite moved by the heartfelt gesture of kindness from their sponsors. “Our patients were more than excited and appreciative to get that extra nugget in their bag, so we thank our sponsors for their help each year and those who came on board with us to make this month an extra special month, not just for us but our patients, because its gives us great joy in giving back,” remarked Mrs. Smith-Roberts.

Senior Social Worker, Jessica Tyghter-Shaw also expressed gratitude to the Jamaica Broilers Group not only for the goodies provided, but also for their heart for community. “We appreciate your assistance, we appreciate you coming out of your offices and coming on the road and interacting with the people and showing that love and genuineness for the people.”

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Other notable sponsors that supported the initiative include Jamaica Biscuit Company, Cals, Lasco and Jamaica Baking Company.

In addition to the efforts of social workers and sponsors, family and friends have an important role to play in creating a better, beautiful life for patients. In fact, their support is key to ensuring that persons with mental illness stay well.

“Oftentimes the first thing that happens when somebody has a mental illness is that families are nowhere to be found, friends are nowhere to be found and so it is really them against this whole big wide world. So, I am encouraging persons, still be a part of their lives, they need you, they need us, they need a family, they need a friend, they need persons around them,” insisted Mrs. Tyghter-Shaw.

“A lot of them are out there and they are being treated in such manner they run come back to Bellevue when Bellevue don’t have the space for them. They probably don’t need to be hospitalized but because they are running away from the treatment in their community they come to Bellevue for refuge,” Miss McKoy lamented. Echoing this sentiment, Mrs. Robert-Smith urges communities not to ostracize them. “No man is an island, the more support that individual has, the better. The propensity of them staying well is greater with more support,” she admonished.

When families fail to play their role however, social workers become the extended family for persons living with a mental illness, which of course requires an added measure of grace. It is therefore no surprise that Mrs. Tyghter-Shaw is keen to declare that she gets her strength from God – “He is the great Teacher, He is the one that taught us how to do social work, He is the best social worker,” she declared with passion.

Her faith certainly mirrors the Jamaica Broilers’ motivation for serving the community. “At our core we are a poultry company, we focus on agribusiness, we are vertically integrated. I could talk on and on about that, but what we want Jamaica to know is that the heart; at the core, we believe in Jesus Christ, we believe in His mission, and His mission becomes our mission in terms of how we serve our community. Our partnership with Bellevue Hospital in going out into the community has helped us to exemplify that,” Mrs. Cameron declared.

No doubt the partnership of families, communities and good corporate citizens, will continue to assist Bellevue in creating a more beautiful life for persons living with a mental illness.

Comment below or send an email to familyandfaithmagazine@gmail.com

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WATA, Wellness and Hurricane Prep with Fitness Coach Kamila McDonald

Persons who are overweight tend to overthink the weight loss and wellness process and get bogged down with gym membership fees, starvation diets, fat-burning tablets and other ideas, when sometimes one of the simple things that can be done immediately with little effort is ensuring that they are hydrated by drinking enough water. According to a recent study, some 50% of Jamaicans are dehydrated, which explains why so many are also overweight! However, thanks to the efforts of the WATA brand in Jamaica, efforts are being made to increase the hydration of Jamaicans and place hundreds on a path to wellness and weight management.

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Over the past 4 years, WATA Ambassador and Fitness Coach Kamila McDonald and other guest instructors have been leading the WATA Wellness family of approximately 100 persons every first and third Wednesday through various workout activities free of cost. Interestingly, the workouts are innovatively done with WATA bottles. “When I first started working with them (WATA), I thought, how cool would it be if you could use WATA bottles as weights? So we started using 1.5 litre and 5 litre WATA bottles during our workouts,” she told Family and Faith Magazine, beaming.

Plus as brawta each member receives their ‘workout WATA’ to go home, which is a great way for them to stock up during the current hurricane season. Of course September has seen some of the most intense storms during the season and Kamila recommends that Jamaicans stock up on a few 5 litre bottles of WATA in order to stay hydrated during the season, especially during water lock offs or simply to ensure that they are consuming clean potable WATA. Each person in your home needs at least 5 gallons of water over a 3-day period to stay hydrated.

Reflecting on the impact of the WATA Wellness Programme over the years, Kamila declares that “it has been a blessing. Through the WATA wellness programme, I know that I am fulfilling my purpose on earth. We have 1 member who has lost over 100 pounds by committing to the monthly workouts and you have women feeling more confident about themselves,” shared the bubbly fitness expert. She added that working with the WATA brand “fits so authentically into what I do in my life, which is teach people to be the healthiest version of themselves which you can’t do without proper hydration,” she explained, emphasizing that the most important aspect of being healthy is being and staying hydrated.

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For her personal regime, Kamila tries to get in 3 litres of water each day, which is two 1.5 litre WATA bottles. She espouses the adage that ‘water is life’ and points out that water in the human body lubricates joints, protects organs and helps with lethargy. And for those who don’t quite like the bland taste, she suggests adding a favourite fruit or vegetable such as oranges, cucumbers or lemons to your WATA beverage. The health guru also advised that sometimes when persons say they are hungry, sometimes they are simply dehydrated.

No doubt Kamila and the WATA Wellness Family will continue to spur Jamaicans on to a better version of themselves as they stay committed to hydration and wellness over the long haul. For more information about WATA’s Wellness Family connect with them via Facebook or send an email to watawellness@wisynco.com.

comment below or send an email to familyandfaithmagazine@gmail.com