Story by Petty Officer Monique Deveaux
Defence Headquarters,(RBDF), May 10, 2021 – Lieutenant Natasha Woods is a strong and resilient officer within the Royal Bahamas Defence Force. She possesses the qualities of diligence, openness, and flexibility, which is indicative of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force’s organizational pillar- agility. With youth on her side, she stands fortified with strength, stamina, and endurance to take the future generation of marines to the next level in their careers. A crusader in the crest of good, she would continue to fight with the last breath within her.
This officer is not easily moved, she withstands the pressure of life like a sturdy rubber band. She knows how to be stretched above and beyond and yet is still able to maintain her composure as an individual. Her dedication, commitment, and willing spirit are on display daily, as she constantly works in the background on many event-planning boards and committees, ensuring the success of RBDF functions. Woods is a goal-driven individual who is aware of her potential, capabilities, and abilities. She is always ready to commit one hundred percent to a task. As a woman and mother, she believes that anything is possible if one puts their mind and heart into whatever one desires to master. Woods describes herself as affectionate, but does not take her kindness for weakness. This officer understands the difference between kindness and a doormat. She is a very outspoken person.
Woods, who is a musically inclined, plays the Alto Saxophone, as well as other instruments. She was a member of her high school band under the leadership of Mr. Yonel Justilien as one of the lead saxophonists. She loves to sing and can often be found listening to the song “Victory”, by Yolanda Adams, her favorite artist. Somehow, the beat and lyrics of this song are uplifting to her when she feels overwhelmed or sad. She also enjoys spending time with friends; a basic grill and chills at the poolside. Given the nature of her job, she may be required for detachment and/or deployment. Being away from home a lot has turned her into a individual that brings people together, like her friends and family. Because Woods is at oftentimes required to be away from home, she misses her family and friends, so she therefore is apt to arrange a little “R & R” to bring them together.
Like many of her generation, Woods is an expert at multitasking. What many people don’t know about her is that she is artistic. At least once a month she can be found working on an art piece, using materials from trees and materials around the yard to build the art pieces that she either displays in her home or gives to a friend. Her love for interior decorating keeps her busy at home rearranging furniture adding little here and there. When not spending time with friends, she is often by herself figuring crossword puzzles or in the company of her children. She is a single parent, of two girls, and one boy; Timoya Walton 14, T’Asia Walton 8, and Lester Simmons III 2 years old.
Her reason for enlisting in the Defence Force is a result of her older sibling, Leading Mechanic Denver Woods. Leading Mechanic Woods would often brag to his family after coming home from sailing about the different people he would meet, and the various islands he had the opportunity to visit. She thought about all the excitement her brother brought with him, and said to herself, “Hey I want to do that too!” She wanted to go on boats, sail, meet people, and go to different islands, an experience some individuals cannot share. She wanted to feel that experience, so she filled out the application and sent it in. Most importantly, she wanted to follow in her big brother’s footsteps, which was her reason and inspiration for joining the Force.
Being musically was a plus to be selected as a recruit. At the time she enlisted, the Defence Force Band under the leadership of Lieutenant Commander Bertram Bowleg was in the process of extending the band’s complement. After joining the Force as a member of new entry 46/woman entry 16, she has had the privilege to work in numerous essentials departments. She was first drafted as a marine into the Administration Department/subsection Band. As she blossomed into that consummate marine, the bandmaster encouraged her to excel higher by applying for the young officer’s course. She was successful and was selected to attend the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, England.
After successfully completing the course, she was transferred from a rating to the officer corps. Woods has since served onboard HMBS Bahamas and has filled in on numerous ships whilst serving in the Squadron Department, including a tour of duty onboard HMBS Durward Knowles. Along with playing an instrumental role over the years with the RBDF Annual Summer Camp Program, she has also served in the Administration Department as Wardroom Manager on two consecutive occasions. She is currently part of the Supply Department, and as such she has held the billet of Acting Assisting Base Supply Officer, a position she is now confirmed in, and she also holds the post of the Exchange Officer. She was awarded the Commander Defence Force Commendation Award for her efforts and contribution to the Supply Department.
Woods’ journey in the pursuit of excellence began when she enrolled at The College of Bahamas as a Biochemistry Major. After aspiring to become a Forensic Scientist, her goal of completing her schooling was put on hold as she embraced motherhood. Even after joining the Force, Woods has always felt a nudging feeling deep down within her to complete her degree. Many years before joining the Force, it had always been a goal of hers that she had written as one of the things she wanted to accomplish. After unsuccessfully obtaining study leave, she was however, determined to complete her degree. During that period in her career, she was assigned as Operations Officer onboard HMBS Durward Knowles. She nevertheless, went and applied to the College of The Bahamas in pursuit of an Accounting Degree, and was accepted into the program.
In her pursuit, she is reminded of the words of Mark Twain, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” This is how she felt, and she was lucky enough to be working under great leaders at that time, who all supported her dreams and aspiration as a young officer. They inspired her to become great and stood with her as she took on a full slate of classes. It was difficult! Some semesters she took six to seven classes to complete her degree within four years. She would at oft times take a vacation when she had major exams, to ensure that she passed. She was determined and not prepared to re-take any course. Her motto was “Get there, get it and get out!” She achieved her goals through hard work. She used cue cards, studied literature online, completed pop quizzes and practiced with past exams, all in an effort to make the mark. Obtaining her degree was not all smooth sailing, because she had obstacles and bumps in the road. However, she kept pushing and today, she has completed her degree in Business Administration in Accounting at the now renamed University of The Bahamas. Although she didn’t achieve a Forensic Scientist status, she still keeps the option of becoming a Forensic Accountant.
When asked who she holds as a role model, Woods replies: “My role models are my parents.” They were the glue of the family. Her parents had four children. They would ensure that the children were well maintained, educated, and provided for. They gave their children the discipline needed to become productive members of society. Her parents didn’t believe in youngsters being wayward children. Her mother was the caretaker of the home and her dad worked long hours, but remained the disciplinarian. As a mother, she wants to instill some of the teachings she learned from her mom and dad into her children. She believes that it is the parent’s responsibility to groom the child/children as it should be.
Woods says her superhero is Superwoman because she is a female and a strong icon in society. Despite being strong, she has her weaknesses and the welfare of people in society is her passion. However, with Superwoman, she can strike the balance with family and friends. Superwoman has a never-ending crusade to rid society of evil and wickedness for the betterment of the general public. “She’s my superhero because she reminds me of myself,” Woods says. “I want to follow in Superwoman’s footsteps as a woman knowing that it is okay to be strong. Nevertheless, it is equally important to embrace one’s weakness in the effort to turn that weakness into a strength that benefits oneself, advances one’s career, families and nurturing one’s relationship with others. As an officer of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, my goal is to always look out for the welfare of those entrusted to me, as well as the greater force.”
Woods recounts her journey thus far on the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and says the highlight of her career would be a combination of a list of works that she has been engaged in in the past five (5) years. She has been involved in writing letters to organizations and businesses within the Bahamas requesting discounts to military personnel with the presentation of a valid Defence Force Identification Card (ID). Like other Militaries and Coast Guard personnel around the world, members of the Defence Force now have this opportunity. She gives thanks to the Commander Defence Force who allowed her to succeed in this venture.
Woods concludes by sharing her outlook on the idea of beauty. “Beauty, I believe as a strong military person, and mother are not found in the clothes that we may wear from time to time, nor is it our shapes that we have, though they may be appealing to others. Beauty is reflected in our innermost souls. It is in the practical things in life that most people take for granted. Thinking about it, beauty is showing compassion and caring for others. It teaches our children the value of being a brother’s keeper. Beauty, this Mother’s Day is passing on the legacy of family values and traditions. It is knowing that it takes a village concept to raise one’s child. As a military mother in the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, I will say, let’s continue to build that village in which our children can feel safe and be nurtured as we guard our heritage this Mother’s Day.”
Message to My Children this Mother’s Day.
On this Mother’s Day, my little darlings, I want you to know mommy loves you and appreciate you. You are the reason that I keep going strong. The fact that I know you are there gives me the energy to propel forward and keep working. I want you to know, I’m working for your success, not mine. I am working to ensure that you are well taken care of and can fulfill the dreams you wish to pursue with mama’s aid. I want you to know that you may not see me all the time, but I am here for you. I’ve got your back and most of all, I love you no matter what!
TCI Health Launches COVID Booster Shot program
#TurksandCaicos, October 6, 2021 – The Turks and Caicos Islands launches its COVID-19 vaccine booster programme commencing on Monday 4th October 2021. This comes following the approval by Cabinet, of the COVID-19 Booster Vaccine Strategy which was submitted by the Ministry of Health for consideration.
Members of Cabinet including the Governor, Deputy Governor, Honorable Premier, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health were in strong support of the vaccine booster strategy which will provide greater protection to those vulnerable individuals within the country who had previously been fully vaccinated more than six months ago and who are most at risk of severe effects of the disease.
1) Chronic non-communicable diseases clients
2) Elderly – Adults 50 years and over
3) Health care and frontline workers
4) Caregivers of the vulnerable
All persons in the groups listed above would have to have completed the two-dose series more than 6 months ago to be eligible for the booster dose of the vaccine. Eligible persons should reach out to their health care providers to schedule their booster dose.
The booster vaccine programme rolled out in the UK on 20.9.2021 and in the USA on 24.9.2021. On 9th September, Dr June Raine, Chief Executive of the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), which regulates medicines, medical devices and blood components for transfusion in the UK, issued the following statement; “We know that a person’s immunity may decline over time after their first vaccine course. I am pleased to confirm that the COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca can be used as safe and effective booster doses. This is an important regulatory change as it gives further options for the vaccination programme, which has saved thousands of lives so far. The regulatory decision followed a careful review of available data on safety and effectiveness of booster or supplementary vaccine doses by the MHRA and the independent Commission on Human Medicines (CHM), which advises the government.”
The TCI is currently progressing on its fifth tranche of the vaccine which was received from the UK and anticipates the receipt of additional doses of the vaccine to support the ongoing roll out of the vaccine to all eligible residents as well as the booster programme.
The vaccine is critical to the ongoing national response to the COVID19 pandemic. The vaccines are safe and can prevent severe illness requiring hospitalization. All eligible persons are encouraged to get vaccinated to continue protecting themselves, their loved ones and the wider community. All eligible persons who are unvaccinated are encouraged to take the vaccine.
JAMAICA: Bustamante Hospital for Children Gets Specialty Beds From Chase Fund
#Kingston, September 28, 2021 – A bed is one of the most important pieces of furniture in any healthcare facility and forms a large part of patient care and recovery. The Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund, through a generous donation of $4.4 million, has gifted the island’s only public children’s hospital, the Bustamante Hospital for Children (BHC), with 15 specialty beds.
“Those beds were used a day after they were delivered and have helped BHC tremendously, because they came when we started to see an increase in the patients,” Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the BHC, Camile Wallen-Panton, tells JIS News.
“The BHC, unlike other hospitals, has not been badly impacted by the patient load due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), but at the same time we have seen a rise in other illnesses,” she added.
Mrs. Wallen-Panton points out that the beds were allocated to the various wards and explains how they met the required bed specifications.
“The beds that we received were the right specifications. They have the required two-side rail that can be adjusted, and they also have safety wheels that can be locked to make the bed immobile. The beds are outfitted with an Intravenous (IV) stand and are beautifully coloured, which brightens the ward,” she notes.
The CEO shares that the donation was greatly welcomed by staff, patients and parents.
“It is very important that our local hospitals are fitted with adequate beds. You can see the added stress on the patients, parents and caregivers whenever there is a shortage of beds,” Mrs. Wallen-Panton says.
“Our patient load is always growing, and from time to time, furniture and equipment outlive their useful time and they must be taken out, so when an institution such as the CHASE Fund answers our needs, patient, parents and staff salute them. They have made a huge difference in how we serve,” she adds.
Mrs. Wallen-Panton highlights that the hospital administration believes continual improvements in patient care are crucial and welcomes partnerships and collaborations to achieve this.
“As the only dedicated children’s hospital that serves Jamaica and the other English-speaking Caribbean islands, the BHC has to be prepared at all times to accept referrals that require secondary care,” she explains.
“The hospital currently has 23 services, including emergency, medical and surgical, and the social services that cater to the holistic needs of the patients we serve, and we are always trying to find ways to improve on our service delivery,” she notes.
The CEO reiterates her appreciation of the CHASE Fund’s investment in the healthcare sector and wishes the entity success in all its current and future projects.
Acquisition of the beds for the BHC forms part of a larger project by CHASE Fund, valued at $110 million, to purchase beds for secondary-care institutions within the South-East Region.
The facilities include Kingston Public, Victoria Jubilee, Spanish Town, Linstead, Princess Margaret and National Chest Hospitals, Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre, and Hope Institute.
Meanwhile, CEO of the CHASE Fund, Billy Heaven, tells JIS News that the donation of beds to hospitals, including the BHC, falls under the CHASE Fund’s Health mandate.
“In funding health projects, we are always mindful of how many people a project will benefit, whether it will improve access to healthcare and will result in better healthcare delivery and how our intervention can improve efficiency and the overall health system in Jamaica,” Mr. Heaven says.
He notes that the CHASE Fund is pleased to have aided the operation of the only specialist paediatric hospital in the English-speaking Caribbean, which sees approximately 70,000 patients per year, catering to children from birth to 12 years of age.
By: Colleen Dawkins
Cuban Nationals Apprehended in Bahamian waters
#TheBahamas, June 24, 2021 – A group of Cuban Nationals are currently being detained at the Carmichael Road Detention Center after they were apprehended in the south west Bahamas by a US Coast Guard vessel earlier this week.
The fifteen individuals were captured after being sighted on Anguilla Cay on Tuesday 22 June. They were taken aboard the US Coast Guard Cutter, CHARLES SEXTON, and handed over shortly after 7:00 pm to the Defence Force patrol craft, HMBS DURWARD KNOWLES, under the command of Senior Lieutenant Jataro McDonald.
The Cubans were subsequently brought into the capital early Thursday morning, where they were handed over to the relevant authorities. The Cuban Embassy has since been notified.
The Royal Bahamas Defence Force continues to maintain a vigilant presence while patrolling and protecting the territorial waters of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, and working with other law enforcement agencies.
Photos shows: Cuban nationals shortly after their arrival at the Defence Force Base, Coral Harbour on Thursday June 24, 2021. (RBDF Photo by Petty Officer Al Rahming)
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