Overseas-based medical specialists bring free services to rural communities[/i][/b]
November 3, 2011 | By KNews | Filed Under News
Source - Kaieteur News
Seven overseas-based medical specialists and surgeons attached to two New Jersey-based outreach organizations came to Guyana last week and conducted a week-long series of free clinics in Berbice and West Demerara. They also completed 39 surgeries between October 24 and October 27 at the West Demerara Regional Hospital with assistance from a team of local doctors, anesthesiologists and ancillary theatre staff.
The team was led by Fyrish, Corentyne native, Dr. James Cort, who has been coming to Guyana twice yearly over the past four years to conduct free clinics for children and adults in Berbice. The visits are made under the auspices of the Fyrish, Gibraltar, Courtland Overseas Support Group.
Dr Cort has since adopted the Fyrish Health Centre and has commenced an on-going programme with the Medex and ancillary staff there with the specific objective of imparting patient education and their social mores to the full medical care of the people utilizing the services of the centre.
“It is important that we work in tandem with the staff who are based here,” Dr. Cort said, explaining that he takes the opportunity to conduct training programmes and exchange ideas with the clinic staff because it is they who must continue patient treatment in between his bi-annual visits.
He returns to Fyrish each year in April and October accompanied by colleagues who work at the East Orange, Beth Israel, the St. Barnabas and Clara Maas Medical Centres and others based in boroughs in the US Tri-State area. He quipped that the politically/medically correct description for hospitals is ‘medical centres’.
Accompanying Dr. James Cort this past October was a specialist team attached to the 15-year old Caribbean Medical Association under the leadership of General Practitioner Dr. Berman Saunders who is also a founding member.
Also a not-for-profit organization, Caribbean Medical has expanded its reach throughout the Caribbean and into Africa. In the past year the specialists have conducted free clinics in Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Dominica, the Dominican Republic and Grenada. Next year this team is scheduled to visit rural communities in Belize and St. Lucia.
The specialist team on the recent visit to Guyana included General Surgeon Dr. Lennox Alves who hails from Mahaica; Urologist Dr. George Johnson, a native of Pouderoyen, West Bank Demerara; Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Ronald Daly, originally from Kingston, Georgetown; Pediatrician Dr. Sandrine Miller also from Mahaica, and Gynecologist/Oncologist Dr. Patrick Anderson, a General Surgeon of Jamaica. Dr. James Cort is a specialist in Internal Medicine.
The team spent the four days conducting clinics in the Upper Corentyne for residents in Fyrish, Gibraltar, Courtland and surrounding communities, and at Belladrum, West Demerara. They simultaneously completed a significant number of surgeries at the New Amsterdam Hospital and at the West Demerara Regional Hospital.
They reported that both in-and outpatients travelled long distances to the hospitals and clinics, some from as far as Linden, the riverain communities along the Berbice River, and from the Essequibo Coast and Islands to access free medical services.
Dr. Berman Saunders pointed out that the most prevalent ailments were symptoms of lifestyle diseases that mass data have found to be prevalent in under-developed and developing countries. These include Hypertension, Diabetes, High Cholesterol and tumours.
However, over the past four years since the bi-annual medical missions to Guyana began, the Fyrish Medical Centre is reporting an appreciable downward trend in the incidences of these diseases. Using a template designed some years ago by Dr. Cort, the ancillary staff have been able to conclude that cholesterol levels on a broad scale have dropped and that there are fewer cases of critical illnesses, including high blood pressure and diabetes.
This heartening development was also the result of an intense programme of patient education that included wide distribution of pamphlets and posters with tips and advisories on diet, exercise, the deleterious effects of smoking and heavy alcohol consumption.
The advisories included suggestions for lifestyle changes that have been specifically tailored for residents of agriculture-based communities.
The template was also designed to gauge the progress of each patient based on the treatments and medication they have been receiving over stipulated periods.
Dr. Cort said that the doctors ensure that the medicines they source overseas are comparable to what is available in Guyana or those that could be easily accessed elsewhere. He was surprised that the local medical community across the board uses the same medicines as those available in the USA which, he said, makes it easier to select.
He was extremely pleased to learn from laboratory technologist, Loxley Lambert, and ancillary staff at the Fyrish Medical Centre, that their patients now know how to control their cholesterol levels and improve the quality of their lives.
This is testimony, he said, to the effectiveness of their overall health care programme which was introduced more than three years ago.
The services that the specialists provide, though free in Guyana, come at a considerable cost. Medical supplies are purchased with donations from members of the US Chapters of both organizations and from the considerable West Indian population resident in the Tri-State area.
The annual fund raisers include an all-white Boat Cruise in July and a Black Tie Gala affair that has been held every year for the past eight years.
The fund raisers bring in significant proceeds that help to pay for shipping the medical supplies, for travel, accommodation and sundry expenses.
The specialists all expressed gratitude to HPS Dr. Roger Luncheon, to Minister in the Health Ministry, Dr. Bheri Ramsaran and Dr. Narine Singh who lent tremendous support to the mission and have pledged to continue to assist the Caribbean Medical Mission and the Fyrish, Gibraltar, Courtland Medical Overseas Support group. The local Chapter among whose members is Clinton Williams, CEO of GNIC and President of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA), has also been playing a meaningful role in supplying logistical support to the mission.
The overseas-based Guyanese doctors have been conducting voluntary medical missions in Guyana twice yearly over the past four years. In 2010 they held similar clinics in Kitty and Campbellville, Georgetown and at Aurora and Charity on the Essequibo Coast.
Their last mission to Guyana was in April of this year and as per schedule, a team of specialists is expected to return next year. This team may not include every doctor who visited recently since each specialist’s schedule at their private clinics and their obligations to the various health centres in New Jersey make it difficult for them all to be available for the mission to Guyana at the same time.
However, a specialist team is expected in Guyana come April 2012 and the schedule for surgeries and community clinics is already being worked out by team leader Dr. James Cort.