DOMINICA – Medical help for thousands
Over 8,000 dominicans receive treatment from hospital ship
ROSEAU –– Eight thousand, four hundred and eighty-eight Dominicans have so far received medical attention as part of a nine-day health mission to the island conducted by the United States Navy’s Hospital Ship USNS Comfort.
Director of Primary Health Care Services Dr Laura Esprit made that disclosure while addressing the closing ceremony of the mission held at the Acute Psychiatric Unit (APU) building at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) yesterday.
The ship, which is the largest floating hospital ship in the United States, has been in Dominica since July 27 and is currently docked at Dame Eugenia Charles Boulevard in Roseau.
“For dental services: 574 patients; optometry: 1,186 patients; general medicine and in sub-specialties: 4,125 patients; paediatrics: 1,602 patients; physiotherapy: 494 patients; and a total of 457 patients seen at Portsmouth yesterday totalling 8,488 patients thus far,” she explained.
According to Esprit, with a population of 70,000 people on the island, “we swore the entrances at the two medical sites supported millions”.
The two main medical sites she referred to were located at the Dominica Grammar School in Roseau and the Roosevelt Douglas Primary School in Portsmouth.
“Certainly it was encouraging since the public became health conscious and decided to seek care from the international medical professionals on this mission . . . ,” she said.
In terms of surgery, Esprit revealed that the estimated figure provided by the USNS was 100, “however 118 surgeries have been done thus far as we anticipate a total of 125 by the end of [today]”.
She added: “Following July 27, the US team dedicated themselves to having medical assessments done on an average of 1,200 clients daily.”
Additionally Esprit said: “Yesterday being the seventh day of the mission the US team has provided a range of services through our public ranging from women’s health, pediatrics, general medicine, ENT, urology, cardiology, dermatology . . . plastic surgeries, dental and physiotherapy, radiological and diagnostic imaging among others.”
According to her, it has been estimated that approximately 60 CT scans and 15 ultrasounds will be performed upon completion of the mission.
“The US team was instrumental in facilitating the backlog of patients awaiting diagnostic services at the Princess Margaret Hospital and therefore assisted greatly in decreasing the number of patients awaiting long appointments for these services,” she noted.
Esprit highlighted three challenges that made the mission successful.
“The management of the massive crowd that showed up every day at the medical sites was a challenge for us. However, every day staff built on their skills from their activities of the previous day,” she stated.
Secondly, she said some patients were sent home after the capacity to be seen on any given day was exceeded, however she stated that “the USNS team facilitated us by increasing the number of clients seen on a daily basis in an attempt the serve the Dominican public”.
Esprit continued: “Lastly working with multiple organizations for the first time was an initial challenge. However it was a very rewarding experience since were able to forge new alliances and even friendships for the common goal of the mission.”
Captain Sam Hancock, mission commander of USNS Comfort, had this to say: “By tomorrow afternoon when we close operation at our medical and engineering sites and through our combined efforts working together with our local volunteers, our non-governmental organization members, medical staff and our Dominican counterparts we expect to serve nearly 10,000 patients and perform over 120 surgeries on board comfort and cover dozens of topics during subject matter expert exchanges, as well as complete multiple engineering projects at the Office of Disaster Management Headquarters building.”
In fact, Hancock noted, that the team on board the USNS Comfort were very pleased with their first visit to Dominica which would “enabled us to strengthen our ties and support our enduring partnership between the United States and Dominica”.
“We look forward in visiting again in the very near future,” he said.
The USNS Comfort will be on island until tomorrow.