Wednesday, 1 March 2023, marked four years since the opening of Sister Pharo’s Primary Health Care (SPPHC) clinic in Atlantis. For the clinic’s owner, Olivia Pharo, this date holds great significance as it also marks 33 years since she started her nursing career.
In 2018, after serving in government health for 29 years, Pharo stepped down but was far from done. While working at Wesfleur Hospital, she identified the need for primary healthcare services in the community and used her pension fund to start up her own clinic. Barely one year into business, the Covid-19 pandemic struck. During the early days, Pharo would dedicate much of her time to creating awareness in the community and would visit factories to offer free training to staff members on taking proper precautions.
As an essential service, they operated throughout the lockdown and had to take extra precautions when balancing care of sick patients with testing patients for the dreaded virus. Due diligence paid off and the team of healthcare workers managed to get through the whole ordeal without any outbreak in the clinic itself. When Pharo herself battled the virus, she says, it was because her daughter contracted it at work. SPPHC was first situated in the Atlantis city centre, and on 1 March 2021, they opened their doors at the Med24 centre opposite the road. The recovery process after the lockdown regulations got lifted, proved to be as challenging for the clinic as any other business, Pharo says. During the last two years, she was also hospitalised on two occasions, the last being only a few months ago. But each time she has managed to bounce back with renewed vigour, with the clinic still being one of her top priorities, alongside her husband and two daughters.
In early 2021, the clinic had to say farewell to friend and colleague, Theresa Suleyman, who lost her battle against cancer. Although many of the initial staff no longer works at the clinic, Pharo holds dear each and every one who has shared in her journey. This four-year journey of operating the clinic has not always been easy, Pharo says. “But through the grace of God, we are still here.”