The Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre (formerly the Mona Rehabilitation Centre) began as a centre for the treatment of persons suffering from polio in response to Jamaica’s first and worst polio epidemic in 1954. It was the English-speaking Caribbean’s first such facility. It started as a collaborative effort between private enterprise, the government of Jamaica, and the University of the West Indies, who provided the land for its permanent home.
It was lead by an orthopedic surgeon, Prof. Sir John Golding, who provided the technical know-how, energy, and vision, and Mr. Sammy Henriques, a successful businessman from one of Jamaica’s leading commercial families. His personality and solid private-sector contacts sourced the required funds. Successive governments have provided critical support to fill the gaps.
The vision the founders had for the Centre was treatment of the patients, followed by their rehabilitation and reintegration into society. After surgery, they were given occupational therapy and physiotherapy. Once the healing process was well underway, they were offered on-the-job training in various light manufacturing processes and crafts. The Centre aims to provide employment, independence, and restoration of self-esteem.
Over the past 60 years, thousands of patients have passed through the Centre and it has played a critical role in shaping and improving their lives with disabilities. The polio patients of the 1950s were successfully rehabilitated into society, and the scourge of polio appears to have been beaten, through in 1980 there was a small and well-contained outbreak. Today, the challenge for polio survivors is how to deal with post-polio syndrome.
Jamaica’s society has grown and evolved, presenting new needs for a centre of this kind. Now, the Centre focuses on motor vehicle accident survivors, children born with congenital abnormalities, and gunshot victims.