The Linden Fund USA/OMAT team says there is an urgent need for an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Linden Hospital Complex (LHC) after it conducted a number of surgeries there during a recent outreach exercise.
Overseas Medical Assistance Team (OMAT) president and director of the LFU, Dr Stephen Carryl, who is a leading surgeon in New York State, said the collaboration was great because while the doctors focused on surgeries and patient care, team members conducted health lectures in the community. OMAT is celebrating its 20th anniversary of medical outreach to communities in need of medical care.
Dr Carryl and a team of locals, Chinese and Cuban doctors performed over 25 major and six minor operations over four days. A number of abdominal hysterectomies were done for major fibroids. “We did some major, unbelievable fibroids remov-al; we were surprised as to the size of most of those fibroids they were huge, and in particular the women were small in stature and so they looked as though they were in the second trimester of a pregnancy,” he said.
According to Dr Carryl, with the two operating theatres at the LHC and the current team of doctors and nurses most of the transfers to the Georgetown Hospital could be significantly reduced and many lives saved if an ICU is installed. “My true desire would be to see the Linden Hospital Complex open and functionally staff the three-bed ICU they have,” he said. A space was included in the construction of the LHC to house an ICU but it is currently used to house staff from the main laboratory. “I understand that some time ago some decision was made that there is not a need for an ICU and I strongly think that is a wrong decision. I think that is some kind of political decision which I think is unfair and unfortunate that people actually introduce politics into healthcare,” Dr Carryl said.
He also said if surgeries are to be done at any hospital, consideration must be given to the fact that a problem could occur during or prior to the procedure. “You have to live with the reality that if a patient has to be re-operated, if a patient develops a bleeding problem, what you do?” he said, adding that it is morally wrong to have to bag a patient off to Georgetown. Dr Carryl said it is his goal to work with the hospital and the authorities to see what can be done to ensure that the LHC is furnished with an ICU.
It was noted that this year the hospital had an excellent stock of necessary supplies for which they were complimented. “There was not an instance that we requested something and they did not have it, who or what is responsible for this I don’t know but they must be complimented,” Dr Carryl said, noting that since moving to the new hospital the staff is better equipped to do their job more efficiently.
During the exercise, the team diagnosed a number of ailments that could not be addressed due to the absence of specialists in those areas. For the next mission the team is working on bringing an optometrist on board. An eye specialist was part of the team in 2010 and dedicated his service directly to the Wismar Christianburg Secondary School; however, for 2012 the LFU/OMAT team is hoping to offer this service to the public.
The team also aims to include a nutritionist familiar with Caribbean foods to join it to serve the community as it has found a large number of diabetics in the region whose diets comprise daily intakes of foods that are anti-diabetic.
Next year the team also plans to focus on men’s health and aims to have a urologist on board. It was noted that a number of men have serious prostate conditions and are wearing catheters that are antiquated. “These men obviously cannot have a sex life because they have these catheters that are almost permanently in so we need to address those problems.”
Dr Carryl said this year’s success can also be attributed to the availability of nurses and physician’s assistants who were able to function with some degree of independence that allowed surgeons to focus on surgeries. The LFU director also recognised the contribution of the Treatment Option team (another overseas team that was in Linden) which was led by Dr. King, to the success of the outreach. “Working along with the Linden Fund USA is also one of the factors that have made our mission better in the last two year,” he said.
In addition to conducting medical assessments and treating patients, the two teams engaged the Linden population at two health fairs, provided psychiatric training for nurses of the LHC (in preparation for the opening of a Psychiatric Unit at the Old Hospital Complex), held community interactions, donated surgical and other instruments to the LHC and community health centres and held a women’s forum under the patronage of the Women of Mission Inter-national, an affiliate group of the LFU.
This year, the mission formed its first youth group and developed a number of key partnerships. LFU Executive Secretary Linda Felix-Johnson said the success is the reward for perseverance and the commitment of the Fund members and supporters across the Diaspora.