The Bellevue Hospital has been working diligently to establish relaxing green spaces for its patients, residents and the wider public, its latest creation being ‘Oo park’ named in honour of psychiatrist Dr Myo Kyaw Oo.
From as far back as 2008, the psychiatric hospital has been working to have a more relaxing environment for its patients, creating a ‘rainbow park’ and the unofficially named ‘duck park’ where people can connect with nature. This therapeutic intervention has been known to aid in the continued recovery of persons with behavioral health conditions.
Plans were then put in motion for the areas to be combined, creating a larger and improved space. Under the leadership of current CEO of Bellevue, Suzette Buchanan the park was named in honour of Dr Oo for his long service at the institution.
“They thought it was quite reasonable to give [the park] my name, so I told the CEO when she asked me about it that I feel honoured. However, my view is that there are many other staff members who work diligently and very dutiful, so I thought that we should honour those people. They should deserve it more than me,” Dr Oo told Our Today in an interview.
Dr Oo’s started his career at the hospital on December 7, 1990. He worked his way up from residency, senior residency and a consultant to now become a senior medical officer, a position he has held since 2010. Throughout his time, he has worked with hundreds of patients, helping to facilitate all their healthcare needs.
He was a part of the team that fostered the development of these areas at the hospital and initiated the conversation for the park to be officially given a name, after noticing that the previous areas designated for relaxion were unofficially named. Dr Oo will also be retiring this year, leaving behind his legacy.
He shared that he is an advocate for mental health spaces and was ecstatic to create a soothing and beautiful environment for the patients, but more green spaces are needed in all hospitals and health care centers across Jamaica.
“Before you talk about your health problem or before you see a medical team, this environment alone should be very welcoming and should be very soothing. This environment alone once you see it should be relieving some of your suffering to a small percentage,” said Dr Oo.
He added that “when you talk about the society and about civilisation, when you want to set up either a town or a city, it is the government’s responsibility to create parks for the civilians so they can go and do exercise and relax”.
For Dr Oo, this realization became more apparent when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and patients were forced to stay inside, locked away from nature. He shared that this took a toll on some patients who craved the outside world, but thankfully that is no longer the case.
“The park is a great opportunity for them to come out since we are now in that space that we can control Covid and Covid is not that widespread now for them. It is very fortunate these days that our patients and residents can come to get sunlight. They can go there now anytime with a staff member enjoying the soothing environment, so that is relief,” he told Our Today.
In addition to staff and residents, the park is also available to the public. Jamaicans from all over and come on the grounds of the hospital to enjoy the therapeutic scenery, watching ducks and peacocks as they frolic across the grounds.
“The modern hospital concept is that when you enter the hospital compound, you see a beautiful lawn and tree branches, flower blossom and water fountains,” said Dr Oo.
He further noted that several international hospitals in first world countries adopted this practice, having green spaces on the inside or outside of the building that have been a tremendous benefit to patient’s overall health.
As it relates to future plans to create more of these spaces, he shared that Bellevue currently has a tone of land space ready and waiting to be developed and he is sure that the Ministry of Health and Wellness will properly utilise the area.
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