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The Issa Trust Foundation Presents: An Evening with Air Supply. Proceeds will support the St. Ann’s Bay Hospital Pediatric Ward. Save The Date: June 24th.




LloydOn Wednesday October 1, 2014, My wife Gillian and I had the pleasure to travel to Free Hill Primary School with some other guests and Diane Pollard, CEO of the Issa Trust Foundation. The school is located up in the hills of St. Mary’s Parrish, and is very remote. Upon pulling into the driveway, I wasn’t sure that this was actually a school, as it looked more like a factory, not a place of education as we in Canada and the US are used to. First thing I noticed was there are no windows, only shutters and cinder blocks with decorative holes for ventilation. The principal, Mr. Murphy, greeted us with a warm smile and a handshake, and led us into the center courtyard. The school is basically “U” shaped, with an inner open area where the students play, have recess, snacks, and lunch. We did get to enter a couple of classes to observe, where we were greeted extremely politely by the teachers and students. Some students even sang for us, which was quite a treat. This is a school with very limited resources, but filled with caring teachers and students who are eager to learn. I could probably describe all the things that they do have, but I think describing what they don’t have may give a better sense of the conditions there. Windows.  As I said before, there are no windows, just shutters and cinder blocks with decorative openings on the exterior. There is no air conditioning. There are no walls between some of the classrooms. Only blackboards on stands used to divide the classes. The rooms are small, and not well lit.  There is no playground, just a couple of rusted basketball nets with no webbing and no backboards. There is a swing set without any swings. There is no soccer field, baseball field, monkey bars, or climbing sets. They have nothing of the sort. All things that we take for granted. This school’s students range in age from 4 to 12 years old, and it is certainly not a place that any of us would ever send our own kids to. Alas they do get by, even with the limited supplies and facilities they have.  In compared to what we have though, they have nothing. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Issa Trust and it’s staff, the school does have a new classroom, separate from the others for those student who need a more quiet area for learning, without the distraction of having to hear whats being taught in the next classroom. But they do need more. This 2 hour trip was a learning experience for both of us, to actually see how others live in this world. We have been humbled.   I urge all guests to take the trip and see for yourselves,  get an appreciation for what we take for granted. Bring some school supplies of pens and pencils, crayons and paper, books, and craft paper. Donate to the Issa Trust. If we all pitch in, even just a few dollars, we, as a group who travel from far and wide to enjoy our vacations in paradise, who have fallen in love with this little island and the people of Jamaica, will make a difference in a child’s life. We are all of this world, so please, support our world.    
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We had the privilege of joining a small Issa Trust Foundation sponsored mission in March, 2014.   This was our 3rd trip to the island.  Our first 2 trips were busy working in the pediatric clinics that the Issa Trust has sponsored for the past 10 years.  This trip was different.  We had an opportunity to see more of the beautiful island, visit multiple hospitals and meet with dignitaries. But most importantly, we gained a new appreciation into the depth and value of the work that has been carried out by the Foundation and Diane Pollard. Picture from top floor of the Port Antonio Hospital Our first day we traveled to St Ann’s Bay and returned to a hospital we had visited last September. We were again escorted through the hospital, weaving through seemingly endless lines of seriously ill people, waiting all too patiently to be seen by a care provider.   The pediatric unit bares no resemblance to the hospitals we’ve worked in, but one is immediately struck by the dedication and caring nature of the staff, working with severely limited resources.   We carried a variety of Welch Allen equipment that was being donated. Thermometers, blood pressure cuffs – tools we take for granted are received with overwhelming gratitude.
Donations By WelchAllyn

Donations By WelchAllyn

Donations by Welch Allyn The units were busy, the nurses and physicians, including trainees utilizing their strong clinical skills to provide the best care possible.  We were warmly welcomed, a result of the relationships established over a number of years.  This scenario was repeated at the other hospitals we visited.   At the hospital in Annotto Bay, we witnessed a delighted physician overwhelmed with the donation of an exam light.   Previously, his only way to illuminate any assessment or procedure he performed was the light on his phone.
Hospitals in Jamaica

Hospitals in Jamaica

Our trip to Kingston included meeting with Lady Allen, the Minister of Health, and visiting Bustamante Children’s Hospital.
Bustamante Children's Hospital

Bustamante Children’s Hospital

Visit to the Kings House, Kingston Jamaica We came away from this and all hospital visits with a new appreciation for the opportunities for making sustainable contributions to pediatric care.  These include not only resources and equipment, which we had the pleasure of donating during this visit, but also education.  The lack of subspecialty care is striking, the need is vast.  The words that Diane repeated to everyone with whom she interacted echo in our ears – “what can we do to help you?”     We are excited about responding to the answer.
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The Issa Trust Foundation is pleased to advise that Couples Resorts 2014 Calendars are ready for you to purchase!! For a donation of $25.00 or $20.00 each for two or more, we will send you a memorable calendar of beautiful pictures!,  select Donate.  Be sure to put #2014 Calendar” in the comment field.  What a great stocking stuffer – a way to make a difference!!
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The Issa Trust Foundation is pleased to advise that Couples Resorts 2014 Calendars are ready for you to purchase!! For a donation of $25.00 or $20.00 each for two or more, we will send you a memorable calendar of beautiful pictures!  Just go to Issa Trust Foundation.  Be sure to put #2014 Calendar” in the comment field.  What a great stocking stuffer – a way to make a difference!!
picture of calendar

Perfect Stocking Stuffer!

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ventilatorDid you know in Jamaica there is Universal healthcare coverage?
•Hospitals run by government
•Governments spend $125/person vs $5000/person in USA
•Doctors ratio – 8.5:10,000 people
•Dentist 1:17,000 people
•Pediatricians are subspecialists (children < 12 yo)
•Medical transport is limited
•Healthcare centers provide free vaccines
My first day (8/5) was at Port Maria Hospital. We had a substitute driver named Justin. Steve was not available – never heard why… Justin is actually the X-ray tech at the hospital but became the driver for the morning as the X-ray machine was down for the day. (Didn’t hear if it was fixed) Had a tour of the facility from Dr. Brown, the Parish Manager. (equivalent to a County Health Officer?) Then they put me right to work.I saw Urgent Care type cases – first come, first served. It was right next to the ED – Which they call A&E here (I believe it’s for accidents and emergencies).  Saw a total of 6 patients only – I guess it was a slow day as the A&E was not busy when I arrived and the Peds Ward was rather quiet.Two of the patients were infants w/ constipation but otherwise healthy (they say “Can’t du du” here) and a young man with a cellulitis from nail puncture on his foot. The last patient I saw had a second occurrence of fever w/ bad leg pain – so bad he had trouble walking. Otherwise healthy kid. We got some blood work (one of the Jamaican doctors helped me – I haven’t drawn blood in 15 years!) which should elevated CK. I think it’s a viralmyositis because I had 2 patients in the past with something similar. The rest of the day was very slow – no more patients. On Tuesday (8/6) I am actually sitting here writing this beside the pool. Apparently it’s Jamaican Independence Day and a holiday. We were told not to come in today and wouldn’t have a driver anyways.  Tomorrow I am scheduled to go to Annotto Bay Hospital, a little further to the east from Port Maria.
I am writing this a little late..but better late than never 🙂 I wrote about the medical part, now my recommendations about Jamaica and the resort.

Things to do:
#1. The steel drum band on Wednesdays is amazing, I went to see it twice. The second time they had a group of break dancers that were incredible!
#2 The acoustic artist that plays his guitar on the beach on Tuesday night is also amazing. It starts late but worth it
#3 We went biking in the mountains one Saturday using the Chukka tour…it was my favorite activity in Jamaica
#4. Climbing Dunns River is really fun and a short little free trip
#5  If you mix the light beer with Ting (the grapefruit juice) it makes an awesome little drink that tastes a little like Summer Shandy
#6  The Catameran ride is fun and worth the trip to get out into the ocean and swim a bit
#7  The spa treatments are excellent and worth the money
#8  They serve lattes and cappucino in the shop by the beach from 10-6
#9. Love their sorbet and ice cream
#10 Fridays are lobster day..take advantage of that 🙂
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Hi everyone! I wish I would have kept up with this as the weeks went by but I was having such a great time it was hard to sit down and write. Like the most recent entry I will try to cover each hospital I went to and the resort.

Annotto Bay:  This hospital is currently under reconstruction due to hurricane Sandy so the pediatric ward was located in the old administration section. I’ve seen pics of the new pediatric ward and it looks amazing! Hopefully by the time the next docs arrive they will have moved into the new section and will be again taking pediatric transfers from other hospitals. We only had about 5-8 inpatients at a time due to the limited space but I felt like the experience in the inpatient setting, directly working with the Jamaican pediatric specialists here was very helpful to me. Wednesdays I would show up around 9 am and pick a few patients to see and then we would round with Dr. Ramos and Dr. Fischer around 11 am. There are other general doctors covering the pediatric section available to answer any questions you have and divide up the patients with you. After rounds on Wednesdays I would often head over to A&E (ED) to see any pediatric patients they had there. By that time, there usually aren’t too many children so I would head out around 2pm Wednesdays when there is a driver available. The administration is really helpful in finding someone to take you back so I would just ask for their help each day when I was ready.

Thursdays are clinic days at Annotto Bay. Sometimes there were 16 patients scheduled and sometimes 65. This is a pretty fast paced clinic and they would call the next patient up to see me as soon as the other patient walked out the door, so I found it helpful to jot down a few notes in the chart and do the rest of my charting at the end. I worked again with a general physician and sometimes Dr. Ramos so there is always someone available to answer questions regarding how to refer someone, how to write a script, what is available, etc.

The inpatient unit had a wide variety of types of patients, for example, I saw children with post strep glomerulonephritis, ill asthmatics, meconium aspiration syndrome infants, and osteomyolitis in a sickle cell kid to mention a few.

In clinic, we mostly saw children for asthma check ups and well baby checks. However every once in a while there would be a weird rash, or something more unusual. I actually saw a first time mother who likely had ectopic breast tissue with a nipple in her armpit that was lactating out of her armpit!!!

Port Maria:

At Port Maria, they would send me patients from A&E that they normally would either see in A&E or send to the clinic. The only physicians I had contact with here were the docs assigned to A&E that day. Make sure you let both the nurses in the back and in the front, AND the doc know you are there. They will clean the room for you and send you patients. You are kind of off in a corner outside of the ED, so if you need to ask questions or need more supplies it is more difficult. Try to anticipate what you will need at the beginning of the day and they will grab it for you. Especially because you can’t leave your things in the room. I would grab my computer and bring it with me when I needed to go into the ED for something, and I never left the patients in the room when I wasn’t there with my things. Mondays are pretty busy, I saw anywhere from 15-20 patients on Monday, Tuesdays were much more low key and I saw about 10. So, bring a good book on Tuesdays especially, because Steve (your driver to Port Maria) can’t always bring you back when you are ready. He is usually there by 4pm, but I finished by 2 or 3 most days.

I saw more ED type patients here and often had to make a splint, read xrays on my own, and even admit people. The A&E physicans are willing to do anything you don’t feel comfortable doing, you just need to tell them you can’t or don’t know how to do something and they will take care of it, but usually the patient has to wait much longer then. I had to refer a few people to orthopedics, which is in St. Anne’s Bay (about 1 hour away), they can be seen the next day.

I also ran into problems with meds being available at this hospital that usually are available, such as prednisone, salambuterol, cephalexin etc. It helps to ask your patients to come back and let you know if something wasn’t available. Some of them are willing to go into town and buy the meds, but those pharmacies close early also so if a child really needs something right away try to write for it in A&E. I would send children in to get neb treatments and prednisone before they could go home. You can usually get xrays within an hour and I would just ask the patients to come back with the film that day. Cultures get lost all the time, so I rarely ordered these…If I thought a kid looked classic strep I just gave them amox. I would never do that in the US but cultures take a month sometimes to get back here.

Port Antonio:

This was my favorite place to be. It is a really long drive, I was there 3 Fridays, but the drive is beautiful and felt I was the most useful at this hospital. I saw pediatric referral cases from the NP clinics so I would see some pretty interesting problems. Most of the time I just had to refer them to the children’s hospital in Kingston but it was nice to know that they were seen quicker because I was there. I also would help out in the morning on the pediatric inpatient ward, discussing complicated cases with the general medicine doc. I could do some teaching and there were often complicated cases, such as an 11 yr old with hyperbilirubinemia and sick asthmatics. So my first 30 min-hour was spent on the inpatient ward, then I went to clinic and saw anywhere from 3-12 patients (mostly referrals or kids needing refills for asthma, seizure meds, etc), then I would go to A&E and help out with acute sick cases. I saw anywhere from 2-10 patients in A&E also. I left at 4pm each day, so it is also helpful to have a book along in case your case load is less for that day. Mr. Campbell, the hosptial administrator drives you there and back. He is really friendly and always on time.

I gave a presentation the last Friday I was there. I did a talk on acute abdominal pain in children and it went awesome because 10 people showed up including the surgeons and ob/gyn physician, Dr. Davis. We had a great discussion. I recommend bringing a powerpoint you have done before or something you have prepared ahead of time to present, as they really appreciate the presentations at this hospital. In the past, people have talked about bronchiolitis, vomiting and diarrhea, etc. Ok I am publishing this a little late, I left 2 weeks ago but hopefully this will still help. I will write about the resort next.

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It’s my last night in Jamaica, and I have had a great two weeks working here!  I have learned a lot about the medical system here in Jamaica and have seen a lot of patients!  I’ll give a quick run down of the way my weeks were set up, followed by some things that I enjoyed most about the resort, and finally some helpful cultural/medical tips that are different from how things typically go at home!

Monday/Tuesday: Port Maria
This is a rural hospital and is the closest of the three locations.  ~ 30minutes by car.  My day typically went from ~8am-4pm, occasionally finishing a little sooner.  I spent a little bit of time up in the ward, but mostly I worked in a room right around the corner from the A&E (Accident and Emergency) seeing patients (mostly patients from the A&E but sometimes also patients that were being seen for immunizations in the outpatient setting that nursing also thought could benefit from seeing a doctor).  Sometimes it was a little slow at the very beginning of the day, but it always picked up and then there was never a lack of patients to be seen before the end of the day.  I probably saw ~10-20 patients per day.  The volume here was definitely a plus.  One of the general doctors was staffing the A&E, which was definitely a benefit because especially at the beginning, I had questions about what medications were available in the pharmacy, how to get someone referred to get a hearing test, get an echo, or see a subspecialist.  I think that is one of the more challenging aspects of the trip– just figuring out how to navigate the healthcare system here.  The general doctors in the A&E were very helpful.  Sometimes with the volume of patients, it would take some time to find someone to get the answer that I needed for the patient.  Here I wouldn’t recommend bringing the computer with to log patients as you are seeing them (if you are by yourself, because when I had a question to be on the safe side i would bring anything valuable with me in my bag into the A&E to find the general doctor to get the answer I needed… the computer is just one extra thing to carry for this).  Other highlights of Port Maria were getting to do blood draws, an I&D of an abscess, and start an IV (as here it is the doctors that do these things rather than nursing/ancillary staff). 

Annotto Bay
I also had a great but different experience at Annotto Bay.  Annotto Bay had a lot of damage from Hurricane Sandy– the roof blew off the pediatric ward and many other buildings.  Currently they are working in a makeshift pediatric ward, while they are working to repair what has been damaged.  Currently, they are working on the building that was the A&E department. There are two general doctors that were working there each morning and then Dr. Ramos (a pediatrician) would come to round.  It was wonderful working with all of them.  Rounds were a great way to gain some education and insight into how things are done here in Jamaica.  Dr. Ramos also highlights some differences between medical practice and the culture here in Jamaica and what we see in the Unites States.  This educational aspect was very helpful in understanding the people here and gave me more guidance in the information I should be giving for anticipatory guidance for well visits and for caring for common medical conditions here.  On Wednesdays, I would see a couple of the inpatient cases then would round with Dr Ramos and the team.  Generally, Wednesdays finished in the early afternoon.  On Thursdays, I would arrive and go straight to the clinic.  Here we would see hospital follow up patients, patients with chronic medical conditions that needed follow up, referrals, and well baby visits (for an initial hospital follow up and anticipatory guidance after being born– usually were ~1-3 weeks old and if they were doing well, they would not require any further visits, just routine follow up with the health centers to get their immunizations).  The clinic would be a steady flow and there were plenty of patients to be seen.  One of the doctors that I had worked with the day before in the ward would be there with me seeing patients (again, a great resource when you need to figure out how to do a referral, navigate the healthcare system here).  Dr Ramos would also be there seeing new patients himself.  The day would finish once we saw all of the patients that had been there waiting (typically mid afternoon).  Annotto bay was ~45min-1 hr drive.

Port Antonio
I was actually only here on one Friday (as the first week, I had spent an extra day at Port Maria due to transportation arrangements).  Port Antonio is ~1hr40-2hr drive.  One of the administrators from the hospital drives you both ways.  I spent the morning here doing inpatient (seeing the 11 inpatient patients–bronchospasm, rule out sepsis, 2 social cases/holds, a burn patient, dehydration/GE), then in the afternoon saw ~10 outpatients.  The outpatient area was a little further away from the A&E so it was a little further to go to find someone to help you arrange a referral/further care for a patient.  The benefit was that my husband, who is also a physician, was here with me for the second week and he could run up to find what we needed for someone while I kept getting a history, charting, examining a patient.  Again, Port Antonio had a good patient volume.  Seeing patients in the afternoon there was a slight disadvantage because by the lab was then closed so there was no way to send someone for lab results and then have them wait for the results so I could see them before the end of the day.  There were a couple patients that I sent for labs and then had to just have them make the next available appointment in the clinic to follow up.  It was definitely a busy day there though! The people were very patient even though they had been waiting since the early morning to be seen.

The Resort Highlights:
We did the snorkel trip out to the reef and enjoyed getting to see some fish– not as much quantity wise (we didn’t see schools of the same species), but we saw plenty of colorful different fish.
The food is really good with a great amount of variety.  We enjoyed eating at Eight Rivers, which was probably our favorite.  We spent a lot of time eating at The Patio and had some great pasta and snapper.  The staff is really friendly and the service is great!  Everyone in the restaurants, working at the bars, the entertainment team was very friendly and nice!  I have heard great things about the steel drum band that plays on Wednesday nights, but unfortunately we missed it!  Monday nights is a dinner buffet beach party which was really nice as well!
We spent a lot of our down time enjoying some amazing weather on the beach and swimming.  The weather was a little up and down the first week with some rain, but the rain here usually doesn’t last long.  A lot of times it will rain during, the night or early morning hours, but by the time you are leaving to go get some breakfast– it is all sunshine.
We would fill up the couples resort water bottle with ice water for the day to bring with us and brought little sandwich bags and would pack some pastries, cereal or fruit from the breakfast buffet to snack on for lunch at the clinics.

Some helpful things that I learned:

Asthma/Bronchospasm:  They do have spacers available at private pharmacies but the patients do have to pay for them.  I had not really thought about how nebulizer machines wouldn’t be as readily available.  One of the doctors mentioned that she sometimes tells families to do a makeshift spacer if they can’t afford to buy them by having them put an inhaler into the bottom of a paper/styrofoam  and then hold the open part of the cup up to their mouths.

Eczema/Dry Skin (especially in babies):  In Jamaica many families will put chemicals/potential irritants into the bath water (which I initially didn’t know to ask about).  These things include baking soda, blue (which is like a laundry detergent), etc.  They also will often bathe the baby in cold water and frequently will use wet wipes on the babies faces.  I found this information helpful so that I could tell families to avoid these things.  They do carry emulsifying soaps which are mild and unscented here which is what Dr. Ramos told me to recommend to families.

Neonatal conjunctivitis:  I was interested to find out that the vast majority of pregnant women with vaginal discharge do not get tested/treated with antibiotics.  It seems that because of this there is more concern for chlamydia/gonorrhea due to the fact that so many cases go untreated in the mothers.

Sepsis in infants:  Blood cultures aren’t as readily accessible down here so they rely on the clinical status of the patient for treatment.  Many babies will be admitted for concern for sepsis and then receive a total of 3, 5, or 7 days of antibiotics depending on how they do clinically.

We had a great experience, both at the resort and at the hospitals.  It was a wonderful educational experience, and we hope that we were able to help some of the children in Jamaica!  The people here were all very friendly and the patients and their families were appreciative! 
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