Some 450 persons turned up yesterday morning to access the services of the Guyana Watch Inc medical outreach at the Patentia Secondary School.
By the close of the day’s activities at 7 pm it was expected that doctors would have seen at least 700 persons from West Demerara.
When Stabroek News visited the site, doctors were busy attending to the many persons on hand, while at the pharmacy medical volunteers were busy dispending medication.
Ramkishun Roopnarine, one of the community coordinators and a long-time affiliate with the programme, said persons had lined up from as early as 06:00 hrs. He said it would have been more hectic if they had not implemented a number-turn system. Persons had to be registered before being referred to a medical specialist who would diagnose their problems and offer advice.
Dr Henry Issenberg, a heart specialist, said he had seen six children so far, ranging from six months to 15 years, all of whom required surgery. He added that the cases were very serious. He said that their conditions would be further revaluated at the Caribbean Heart Institute this week before a final prognosis was made.
He cited the case of a five-year-old child who was previously diagnosed with a heart condition and given no hope of living, but he is of the belief that with urgent surgery, the child can lead a normal life. He revealed that the child was not given any medication by the previous physician, a move he did not understand. He said that he has since prescribed medication for the child in the interim, which he said should make him stronger.
Further, he said that the family of the child is very poor and would not be able to raise the funds necessary for the surgery but through Guyana Watch, they would try to assist the family in whatever way they can.
The six-month-old, he said, has a hole in his heart. It is his opinion that this condition could result in further damage to his heart and sees no reason to delay the surgery.
Tony Yassin, President of Guyana Watch Inc said the clinic was very active since persons were coming from all parts of West Demerara.
He said that while heart surgeries were very costly, his organisation does its best to provide access to at least six to nine persons per year; finding hospitals where the surgeries can be performed and liaising with family members to ensure that visas, travel arrangements and accommodation are in place.
“On site, we have doctors specialised in internal medicine, paediatrics, dentistry, dermatology and general medicine,” he said. Additionally, he said, local dental technicians were on hand to lend support to the team as well as volunteers from a US medical school.
The dental service was most sought after yesterday. Dentist Dr Reddy Chiran said the majority of children he saw had cavities from bad food habits and the lack of fluoride. He decried the practice of parents who add sugar to children’s juices and added that the majority of homes are supplied water which lacks fluoride. Meanwhile, the adults he saw had decay caused by poor hygiene. He advised that they need to do a better job at brushing their teeth. Extractions, fillings, and cleaning were done by the dental staff.
Meanwhile Stabroek News took the opportunity to speak with patients to determine their views on the outreach.
Pancham Kumar said it provides a good service to the community since it allows people who do not have money to see a doctor. He was there to get medication for a heart problem. He added that he has been living with his condition for the past 10 years and finds it difficult to purchase the medicine he needs.
Mother of four, Sakeena Samsair said the doctors were doing a great job. “Nuff of us can’t afford to go far,” she said. She was there with her son who has a bone disease and needs a back brace. “I believe that they will be able to help me. I’m really poor and I need assistance,” she said.
Her three other children were with her, she planned to use the opportunity to get medication for them since they have the flu.
Yassin interjected that contact was made with Dr Jeffrey who might be able to provide the back brace Samsair’s son needs.
Veronica Abdulla said that the medical centre is really a helpful programme for Guyana. “Children really benefit from it as well as the elderly. …it is an excellent endeavour by Mr Yassin and team. As they are here, I take advantage of the opportunity and come along.”
While she visits other health facilities, she was at the outreach “just in case they can diagnose problems that local doctors might have missed.” This she finds important especially with heart disease. She was there so her daughter could see the paediatrician, while she wanted to see a general practitioner.
Patrick Mentore said it’s very useful and would benefit a lot of people. He said his child has a heart problem but he did not know it was so bad.
The child’s previous diagnosis revealed that his heart had a small hole but there was no urgency for him to undergo surgery.
However, after examination by Dr Issenberg, he was advised that surgery is necessary since delay can result in damage to the other valves in the heart.
Mentore said he was happy for the help and lauded the initiative to include a heart specialist.
Today, the team heads to Anna Regina, where it expects to see persons from Charity to Supenaam.
This is Guyana Watch’s 18th Medical Outreach It expects to see well over 3,500 patients at six medical outreach clinics plus children from twelve orphanages and provide over US$400,000 in medication by the time it ends on August 1.