More work on demystifying HIV/AIDS, psychiatric care needed in LindenWednesday, August 18, 2010 – 2:37 pm
–volunteer says at medical outreach
An Overseas Medical Assistance Team (OMAT) at the Women’s Wellness Forum hosted as part of activities of the Linden Fund USA week-long medical outreach says there is still much work to be done to demystify the risk factors for HIV/AIDS.
A large number of women from various religious, governmental, NGOs and communities turned out for the Forum which focused on empowering women on issues such as domestic violence, child abuse, HIV/AIDS and the importance of medical check-ups. As regard HIV/AIDS OMAT’s Dian John said there is much work to be done in educating not only the general public but community/civic leaders, medical professionals, educational staff and youths to demystify the risk factors for HIV/AIDS and their prevention.
“A recent study has shown that teenage girls between the age of 15-19 years are at greater risk of contracting HIV than teen age boys of the same age group yet I find it shocking that teenage girls of Linden were the least likely to come forward for an HIV test throughout our mission,” she said. This fact substantiates her belief that leaders need to demystify HIV/AIDS especially for the youths and focus programmes to educate youths on the full ramifications of the disease, she added. The health and wellness lectures were held parallel to the women’s forum.
Additionally, Linden-born Dr Stephen Carryl, Chairman of Surgery at the Brooklyn Hospital Center and a board member of the Fund, said despite being set back by one day a number of critical surgeries were conducted. The team screened more than 100 persons on the first day of the clinic. “We were given a list of 60 persons to be screened and of that list 16 persons had urgent needs for surgery. Every day we did six major surgeries,” Dr Carryl said. Surgical procedures were done for thyroid conditions, hysterectomy and breast cancer among others. Many others were seen and treated for chronic illnesses and other complaints.
Dr Malaika Berkley who specializes in mental health told Stabroek News that that there was need for a more comprehensive psychiatric service at the Linden hospital. “From what I could discern the community and the hospital administration seem receptive to this idea,” she said. Dr Berkley said the community, individuals and leaders should support persons with mental illnesses especially when they have to endure stressful circumstances.
Social workers Wenda Hudson and Ismay Griffith echoed Dr Berkley’s statements at a roundtable discussion on mental health issues and the care currently offered by the hospital. Chief Medical Officer at the hospital Dr Farook Riyasat said that about 40 patients are seen at a scheduled monthly clinic at the hospital which is facilitated by a visiting psychiatrist. He said there was also a need for nurses to be specially trained to deal with psychiatric patients.
In her address, Griffith spoke passionately about her desire to see psychiatric patients receiving in-patient care. Hudson then offered her services, adding that Griffith and others from the team are willing to work with the management of the hospital to establish an in-patient care rehabilitation unit at the institution. In addition, they would be working on a programme to have nurses trained in the area.
The health fair held at the Region 10 Business Centre/Linden Enterprise Network (LEN) was also a major component of the outreach. This activity saw the mission being supported by a number of local and overseas-based organizations including the HERG and the St Joseph Mercy Hospital. Hundreds of residents turned up at the fair to take advantage of services offered such as medical screening, glucose, cholesterol, diabetes and HIV testing, educational interaction on topical issues and access to a wealth of other educational resources.
Coordinator of the exercise, Linden Fund Secretary, Linda Felix-Johnson said that she was heartened by the response of community leaders, and the Linden hospital administration. “This has given the entire team the motivation to do more in years to come. Every year this outreach programme is growing, this year was the largest so far and next year it’s going to be even bigger,” she said. Felix-Johnson said many residents approached her to applaud the programmes and appeal for its return.
Resident Sandra Joseph told this newspaper that while she was grateful for the work being done by the existing medical staff at the Linden hospital she believes that the nurses needed to adopt the quick responsive attitude exhibited by the overseas doctors and nurses. “Being polite and showing that you care, love your job and care for the well-being of your patients is a great part of being a nurse,” Shermon Blair, a participant at the outreach, said.
The team also included Dr Malcolm Goodchild, Dr Jonathan Pinto, Yuri Powell, Jacqueline McCrae-Clarke, Nicole Samuel, Elizabeth Coppin, Cecelia Williams, Conrad Forsythe, Donna Simpson, Glendacy Thom, Donna Douglas, Berneita Primo and JoAnna Carryl. The programme closed on Friday.
In 2007, the Fund held its first medical outreach with a 30-member medical team called the North East Mission of Hope. The Linden Fund is dedicated to improving the lives and living conditions of Linden residents through health care, education, job creation and economic development initiatives that are dedicated only to fundamental, long term and sustainable projects.
The Linden Fund USA, in collaboration with its international partners, played a major role in sponsoring the medical visit this year in keeping with its mission of revitalizing Linden and its nearby communities through a number of interventions. The Fund plans to compile a registry of medical professionals who would be encouraged to volunteer to provide services to the people of Region 10