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AIDS patient-care centre closes after funding dries up

CLOSED: The St. Vincent De Paul Care Centre, Princes Street

Drying up of American cash from the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has resulted in the closure of a care and treatment facility for Persons Living With AIDS (PLWAs),

Demerara Waves was told that the Roman Catholic-run St. Vincent De Paul Centre on Princess Street, Werk-en-Rust closed its doors on August 31, six months after management was told that funding would no longer be available.

PEPFAR, Catholic Relief Services and the Guyana government had partnered to support the facility which opened its doors in March 2007.

An official said the treatment and care centre had cost GUY$27 million annually to run but dwindling funds saw it only attracting an estimated GUY$1.3 million monthly, the sources said.

The official said that while several donors were willing to support the hospice, the St. Vincent De Paul could not attract more support to cover operational costs including salaries for the 17 staffers.

At the time of its closure, the St. Vincent De Paul Centre had five clients (patients) who were sent to their respective homes.

The care centre could have catered for as much as 18 patients who were often given a three-week treatment for tuberculosis and provided an appropriate diet.

With the closure of the 18-bed hospice, the only other centres are those at the Davis Memorial and St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital.

A former official of the centre boasted that several bed-ridden persons had recovered, reintegrated to t society and assisted in finding jobs. However, others had relapsed and in some cases died because of poor nutrition.

The Catholic Standard newspaper has reported that only persons who had been referred from treatment sites which were recognized by the National AIDS Programme Secretariat and who met the eligibility criteria were given access.

Through close collaboration with the Minis-try of Human Services some patients, and occasionally their dependents, received further assistance. The center also helped those being discharged to gain employment.

The David Rose Boys Hostel in Princess Street was rehabilitated in 2007 and converted to house the facility. In December 2006 head of the SVP, Mr. Winston Playter and Mr. Thibaut Williams, ProgrammeManager for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) signed an agreement under which CRS provided the funds for the repairs and conversion of the hostel.