Outstanding Member of Staff, Mr. Colin Myrie, Transport Department
Updated: Sep 8
The day Jamaica confirmed its first case of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Colin George Myrie, driver of the South East Regional Health Authority (SEHRA), knew his job would have gotten more intense than ever in the last 20 years.
Although he is one of the lowest-level staff members in the health sector, and not directly involved with patient care, the driver – whose responsibility it is to transport staff to and from the Bustamante Hospital and the Kingston Public Hospital – prepared himself and made life-changing decisions to protect and safeguard not only his health, but also that of the persons he serves.
One of his reasons behind intensifying his protective skills is that he witnessed the havoc chikungunya and malaria have caused for families, and, if COVID-19 would have been worse, he took armouring up very serious.
“When I heard of it [in the United States of] America, they say ‘When America cough, we always catch the cold’. So, from a departmental perspective, our management started preparing us. They had discussions with us. They tried to educate us about what is coming, so we were well prepared,” Myrie told The Gleaner.
With this COVID-19 training, he went above and beyond in putting the necessary precautionary measures in place to help protect and safeguard his life and that of others whom he transports.
“When transporting persons, we don’t use any air-conditioning. We keep the windows down and we transport a limited number of staff,” Myrie informed.
For his care and outstanding role in the fight against COVID-19 in the last two years, Myrie was one of several persons awarded last Tuesday night at the SERHA’s Regional Banquet and Awards Ceremony which was held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel.
Twenty years ago, Myrie wanted to either serve as a soldier or a police officer, but his applications were unsuccessful.
“I’ve always wanted to serve my nation. I tried for the police force and the army but, for some reason, I never got through back then. I think I could have contributed [well to the security force] but now, looking back on how I served, I have no regrets at all,” he said.
Albeit unhappy at the time, Myrie, who grew up in the inner-city community of Denham Town, still had his hopes set on having a job where he felt in charge. So he settled to become a male orderly with SERHA in 1988.
Myrie said he took the job available as an orderly at the time because he had a family to care for, and, in July 2002, he landed a job as a driver.
“I had a family back then, and, as a person who is always looking for opportunities and always driving, I saw where I could improve myself and serve my nation,” Myrie told The Gleaner.
Like most healthcare workers, Myrie said work has been very hectic in the last 24 months. He also saved towards buying a house. “That was one of my main goals, and I did achieve that,” he said.
Looking back, Myrie told The Gleaner he would have pursued the same career again after the security forces rejected him.
“Driving is something that I love. That is why I do it, because, if you don’t love it [your job], you’re not going to enjoy it,” Myrie said.
He added, “My experience as a driver had been bittersweet, because sometimes you feel you could have done more, but you feel fulfilled because you have helped persons.”
He said it was bittersweet because sometimes he wants to reach out to persons but he cannot, and the sweet part occurs when he helps persons and sees them smile at the end.
Myrie will retire in four years, and he is already looking forward to and planning for that phase of his life.