SOMERTON, St James — Member of Parliament for East Central St James Edmund Bartlett says the recent turnout of roughly 3,000 St James residents who sought medical attention from a team of professionals from the USA, has highlighted the need for more affordable health care, especially in rural areas.
" The number of persons who came out and saw these doctors is a straight case, because the cost of medicare is so horrendously high in these parts, and in fact all of Jamaica. So, whenever there is this possibility to respond to volunteerism, people come out in good numbers and I think that it makes a great statement to us that we have to make available more resources for medical care in Jamaica," Bartlett asserted.
He was speaking to the Observer West recently at the Somerton Primary School, which was one of the locations where patients from his constituency were being attended to by a 50- member team of a medical mission from Nova South Eastern University Women of Hope in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Meanwhile, Dr Sheryl Atherley Todd—head of the mission which included physicians, pharmacists, medical students, and other volunteers— revealed that for the past 12 years her team has been visiting Jamaica twice per year, but was confined mainly to the parishes of St Mary and Kingston.
Dr Todd, who practised in Jamaica for 20 years before migrating to the US, added that the team has since developed a close relationship with a number of patients they have seen over the years.
She noted that hypertension and diabetes were the most common illnesses among the patients, and stressed the importance of patients continuing to take their medication.
"Lots of time they start taking their medication and because they have no symptom they stop taking them. In actual fact, it is important they continue taking their medication especially for hypertension and diabetes, because both of these can be killer diseases causing stroke, heart attacks, lost of limbs, blindness and all of that," underscored Dr Todd.
The mission not only provides diagnosis for the patients, but supplies them with medication, as well.
"One of the things that we are very happy to do is to bring medication to the people that we see in the different communities because we understand that sometimes they have challenges with their resources to getting some of the medication so what we try to do is bridge that gap," stated Dr Angella Garcia, head of the pharmacy team.
Springmount, Buckingham, Hopeton, Hampton, Kemshot, Barrett Town, Adelphi, Canaan, Content, Blythston and Goodwill were among the communities served by the mission.
And the patients were very grateful for the free healthcare service.
" I find the service quite alright and the people (medical team) nice, calm and everything," said Monica Bumpermore of Somerton, who attended one of the clinics.