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From the Jamaica Gleaner

Tuesday | November 10, 2015 | Adrian Frater

Paediatric care at the Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital in Westmoreland, got a major boost last week when the Issa Trust Foundation, in collaboration with US-based Heart to Heart Foundation, presented the institution with state-of-the art equipment valued at US$190,000.

The items donated included incubators, warmers for newborns, diagnostic equipment, operating lights and ventilators, among other much-needed equipment.

In expressing gratitude for the equipment, Dr Kerri Ann McKenzie, the hospital’s paediatrician, said the equipment, donated specifically to fully outfit a new Level 2 Special Care Nursery, will ensure advanced respiratory support of newborns.

“It will allow us to offer much better care, particularly to our newborns but also to the general department, ” said Dr McKenzie

Camile Lewin, acting chief executive officer at the hospital, expressed profound gratitude to the Issa Trust Foundation, saying the organisation had come to the institution’s assistance at a most opportune time.

“I want to express my deep appreciation to the Issa Trust Foundation for coming on board and assisting us where we’ve fallen short,” said Lewin, noting that while the hospital’s needs were great, the support they were getting was proving to be quite helpful.

Diane Pollard, president and chief executive officer, the Issa Trust Foundation, who was present for the hand over, assembling and installation of the equipment, expressed much delight at being able to assist the hospital.

“We’re excited at the opportunity to partner with the Western Regional Heath Authority and the hospital to bring acute neonate services to enhance what they already have,” said Pollard, whose team included technical experts, who assembled the equipment and advise senior staff on how to use them.

“We bring the equipment down, we make sure it is working,” Pollard said. “The foundation also paid for piped oxygen for the ward and, in January, we’re going to come back with our neonate specialist. We’re going to set up the ventilator and train staff to give these babies some comfort.”

The Issa Trust Foundation is a non-profit organisation created by Paul Issa’s Couples Resort to focus on supporting paediatric health initiatives. Heart to Heart is a US non-profit body that provides volunteers around the world and helps in disaster recoveries.

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Jamaica Gleaner
October 13, 2015

More than 1000 children received free medical and eye care during The Issa Trust Foundation Pediatric Medical Mission held over five days in the parishes of Hanover and Westmoreland from September 24 – 29.

The Paul Issa chaired foundation, has been supporting Jamaica’s children over the past 11 years through various support programmes. Issa is also deputy chairman of Couples Resorts.

“We ensure that the mediation prescribed is available in Jamaica and if a patient requires follow up this is also facilitated,” Diane Pollard, president and CEO of the non- profit group said, “We are proud of our medical mission because we ensure continuity.”

“We have developed a highly efficient process to provide pediatric medical care to as many children at the highest standard of care we can deliver,” Pollard added, noting that they offer everything except for operations; all of which would normally cost a child in the region of US$400, which can making a big difference in a child’s life.

The outreach team led by registered nurse Kerri Cooke and Dr Pat Brophy comprises of medical professionals, such as pediatric pharmacists, intensive care physicians, hematology-oncology consultants, general pediatricians, nephrologists, nurse midwife, pulmonologists, neonatologist, pediatric nurse practitioner, a pediatric nurse and respiratory therapist.

The procedure takes each child through registration, blood pressure check along with other preliminary examinations, doctors’ visit and then to the pharmacy if medication is prescribed. Each child is then examined by a dental hygienist, followed by eye examination and the provision of prescribed eye wear to one in every four children seen, through the support of the Lions Club of Michigan’s donation of over 2000 eyeglasses.

“It’s just an awesome feeling to be giving back, “said pharmacist Art Abrahams, who hails from Ohio City in the US and who is making his second trip to Jamaica with the mission, “From a health care professional’s perspective this sort of support is very important, because such things can easily be taken for granted, but to see firsthand, the need of others, many who cannot afford it and then contribute to make a difference is very rewarding.

According to the foundation, its mission is to provide a system of prevention, health promotion and education, community health improvement and other services to promote well-being and development for the people of Jamaica.

mark.titus[at]gleanerjm.com

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Direct Relief’s collaboration with the Issa Trust Foundation began in 2015 with the delivery of essential respiratory medications, including 792 inhalers, oral corticosteroids, and sodium chloride for use with nebulizers. Diagnostic and respiratory supplies and equipment, such as infant and neonate blood pressure cuffs, a pulse oximeter, and a nebulizer compressor, were also included.

Read more on Direct Relief’s website »
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Gleaner From August 13, 2015 Jamaica Gleaner

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), along with the Government of Jamaica and the Jamaica diaspora, recently hosted a five-week Camp Summer Plus programme in Jamaica. Participants were instructed in reading and mathematics and the arts. Careful thought was given to the medical, dietary, social behavioural and academic fortification of students.

The Issa Trust Foundation, chaired by Paul Issa, who is also the deputy chairman of Couples Resorts, facilitated medical clinics at Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College in Montego Bay, Cedar Grove Academy in St Catherine, and the College of Agriculture, Science and Education in Portland, from July 13-15.

Dr Jeff Segar led the team which gave 362 children a physical examination, basic blood tests, hearing and vision screening, pharmacy medications, when needed, and fluoride treatments. Eyeglasses were provided through a partnership with Michigan Lions Club to one in four of the children seen.

A questionnaire was developed to assist the team to identify risk factors for impaired learning, and also to assist in identifying potential future interventional measures designed to promote learning in this population. If parents had to pay out of their pockets for the medical care, eye examination and glasses, it would cost them approximately $75,000 each.
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The Issa Trust Foundation was formed to make a measurable & sustainable difference for the children in Jamaica. You can help children in school by giving them the tools they need to succeed. Our goal is to raise the funding necessary to purchase 4,000 backpacks and school supplies.

Click here to support this campaign: http://www.booster.com/issa-trust-foundation-education-fundraiser2

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I’m not sure I had truly considered that Jamaica was a mountainous island, and what that meant for the landscape, until the drive to Annotto Bay hospital on my first day at work. To my left was beautiful bright blue sea and to my right, forested hills. Coming from Miami, this view even beat my 15th floor bay/city view balconies. At the hospital, there was more of the new familiar- a modestly equipped open air style British colonial style hospital with friendly nurses and patients. I was greeted with a stream of “good morning”s and “good day”s and the smiles seem to be brighter once I mention that I am with Issa Trust, the Foundation clearly has a solid track record with the hospitals. In terms of work, rounding at Annotto Bay, and even clinic, is very independent. As the Issa trust pediatrician, I pre round on the patient (along with the general practitioner “medical officers” and present to Dr. Ramos, the attending pediatrician. He does fantastic teaching for the residents and  specialist, he usually invites me to chip in to teach. In clinic we function completely independently but can still ask Dr. Ramos or one of the house officers if we have questions on procedure, available medications, referrals etc. While all the charting in clinic is handwritten and often not too legible,most of these visits are well newborn checks and the infants have their health booklets with all pertinent antenatal and peripartum information on the baby. This serves as a very helpful portable medical record for the child and even has growth charts, vaccination records and slots to input information for all of their well child visits through to the school-age years! While the rooms are not as fully stocked as they would be in the states (otoscopes etc), with some effort, it’s possible to maintain the same standard of care/screening as we would have stateside. It’s mostly about remembering your basic history and anticipatory guidance skills and making sure to bring with you what you can (oto/ophthalmoscopes, tiips etc) from the states or from the villa. By nature, and training at Jackson Memorial, I try not to assume anything on behalf of the patients or the follow up system so when I doubt anything at all, I ask one of the other doctors to be sure that what I am doing will actually get them their referral, follow up, medication etc. Overall, it’s relatively easy to settle in and the other doctors and staff are very helpful and welcoming.
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For me, having grown up between Liberia and Ghana, Jamaica, while new, feels very familiar. From the lush green countryside to the old British colonial architecture in the small towns, it could have been transplanted from any of the British commonwealth countries that I’ve ever visited. Nevertheless, the beauty of this new familiar could never be lost. Driving along the main road with rolling clear blue waves to the left and rising rainforested mountains to the right is not a view one easily tires of. The resort, with the open air layout and, beautiful beaches and crisp white walls is just as beautiful as the country.
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The Issa Trust Foundation Pediatric Medical team are preparing and planning to treat over a 1,000 children during the 11th medical initiative in Westmoreland.

All children receive complete medical exams, pharmacy medications and Labs if needed, and vision screening.

If a child needs glasses, the Michigan Lions group will be ready to fit them with their new set of glasses at NO cost.



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Leo Gilling is not one to forget his roots—or anyone in need. The industrious native of Jamaica, who now runs an insurance agency in Florida, grew up in Oracabessa with a determination to make the most of his life. For Leo, that means working hard and giving back even harder, particularly in the area of education.

“I was trained as a teacher in Jamaica, but after college, I switched career tracks to business,” Leo says. The change gave him a better pay check, while still letting him make significant investments in Jamaican education. That includes working alongside Diane Pollard, President and CEO of the Issa Trust Foundation, to increase charitable involvement in education.

Most recently, Leo is partnering with ITF through his work as The Advisory Board Member (ABM) for the West/Midwest USA and the leader of the Jamaican Diaspora Education Task Force. (JDETF) In this role, he serves as an organizer for Camp Summer Plus, a summer program funded by USAID through the Jamaican Ministry of Education with a goal of raising numeracy and literacy among at-risk third graders.

“This is the most critical phase of primary school education,” Leo explains. “The Grade 4 Literacy Test (G4LT) must be mastered before students are allowed to sit the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), the determinant of secondary school placements. We’re attempting to have at-risk students who’ve finished third grade engaged for five weeks in summer so that when they go back to school in September, they will be able to perform at or above their grade level.”

Teachers help to identify pupils who will most benefit, Leo says, and many of those students are reading below the first grade level. At least 125 children will attend the all-day camps, which will be held in three locations.

This year Camp Summer Plus will also include health, occupational therapy, hearing, vision and dental screenings. “Unlike the majority of students in America, Jamaican children might have learning challenges because they don’t have balanced diet and nutrition,” Leo says. “For instance, iron deficiencies can be disabling, and that is somewhat common in Jamaica. So kids sit in class while the teacher is teaching, but they’re not learning. Students might get a C not because they can’t read, but because they can’t see and are too proud to admit it due to their background; the same for hearing.”

Fortunately, Leo didn’t have to look far for a pediatrics partner. “There was no other fitting person to contact than Diane Pollard of Issa Trust Foundation whose specialty is pediatrics,” Leo says. “Issa Trust Foundation is mobile, the personnel are super committed and energized to do work in Jamaica, and Diane comes with a high level of professionalism and competency.”
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Issa Trust Foundation has a very successful and sustainable pediatric model with reportable outcomes. Therefore, we have been asked to provide medical evaluation of all students during Camp Summer Plus. Dr. Jeff Segar, Leads the Team and stated ³evaluation will include a physical exam, basic blood tests, hearing and vision screening, pharmacy medications if needed and Flouride treatments. If eyeglasses are needed, they will be provide onsite through our partnership with Michigan Lions Club. A questionnaire has also been developed to assist the team in identifying risk factors for impaired learning. Collectively, the data will assist in identifying potential future interventional measures designed to promote learning in this population.

Medical clinics will be held:

  • Sam Sharpe Teacher’s College, Montego Bay on July 13th
  • Cedar Grove Academy, St. Catherine on July 14th
  • College of Agriculture Science & Education (CASE), Portland on July 15th
The Jamaica Diaspora Education Task Force (JETF) in partnership with the Ministry of Education (MOE) will host the Camp Summer Plus program in 2015. This project is a joint initiative of the Governments of Jamaica and the United States of America monitored by the Ministry ofEducation and United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The goal of Camp Summer Plus is to improve reading and mathematics skills among students in the early grades (grade 1 – 3) as they return to school after the long summer vacation. The promoted Grade 3 students in recent times have performed poorly overall in the readiness assessment test at the grade 4 level. Therefore, USAID has introduced this program to assist those at-risk students. For five weeks during the summer, academic instruction in Reading and Mathematics, and an enrichment program that includes the arts will be taught. As part of the education platform for the summer and to help students arrive at the goals, careful thought has been given to learning holistically to include medical, dietary, social behavioral and academic fortification of students. Due to lack of funding, Camp Summer Plus was not held in 2014. Camp Summer Plus 2015 is funded by USAID in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the Diaspora. The Diaspora is collaborating and will fully take over the implementation of the camp in 2016, but for this year, USAID contributed the lion’s share of the funding. The Issa Trust Foundation sponsored the medical clinics at three camp sites.
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