Health

Company promises Jamaicans 'affordable' prosthetic solutions

BY ANIKA RICHARDS
Associate editor – news
richardsai@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, September 10, 2017

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A local company that provides medical devices and surgical services is on a mission to bring “affordable” prosthetic solutions to the doorsteps of every Jamaican.

In fact, Surgix Jamaica Limited's CEO Winfield Boban has said, if necessary, his company will use a mobile unit to go into hard-to-reach communities for people who may have difficulty accessing services otherwise.

“We are going after a comprehensive limb replacement programme by bringing in state-of-the-art but affordable prosthesis (an artificial body part) and making it readily available across the island,” he told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview.

Boban, who pointed out that the resources are just not available in the public health system, insisted that there is a genuine need for such a programme in Jamaica.

“Here is where someone has an opportunity for a business because it (providing prosthetic solutions) is not sustainable to do things like [accept] a donation. You have these organisations, some of them ship [devices], some are coming in [to the island] for two or three patients, and that is not a policy — that is just a donation. It is just a one-off thing; it does not solve anything,” the CEO argued.

“Even from a purely clinical standpoint, because you haven't seen the patient over time — you haven't studied the patient, you haven't rehabilitated the patient in any way — you're just putting something on in a sort of cosmetic, one-stop gap sort of measure. So the patient wears a prosthesis for six months, three months and it falls apart because there is no follow-up.”

He is adamant that Surgix Jamaica Limited will not follow the same route. Instead, Boban said his company's limb replacement programme will be comprehensive.

“There is a market opportunity, but there is also the opportunity to help Jamaicans,” he stated.

Providing prosthetic limbs that cost from $400,000 to $700,000 and with a suite of above-the-knee, below-the-knee and bionic hand prosthetic solutions, Surgix Jamaica Limited has so far provided limbs for three patients.

“We will subsidise some things here as we see fit, because we will do a few cases for those heavily in need and there is no shortage of those,” Boban said.

Karen Roper, who is diabetic and has a lymphatic condition, is one of the patients who has been fitted by Surgix with a prosthetic limb.

“I developed a problem with my ankle and it wouldn't correct itself, so they had to amputate below my knee — that was done 2013,” Roper said.

She told Your Health Your Wealth that she had received her first prosthesis from the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre, formerly known as Mona Rehabilitation Centre, and that it was time for her to change the limb because it no longer fit due to shrinkage of the stump from her amputated leg.

However, Roper said she was dissatisfied with the service at the rehabilitation centre and, though the limb cost significantly more money than it would've at the centre, she reached out to Surgix. She said she was able to purchase the new prosthesis through assistance from friends, money from a fund-raising event, as well as with a payment plan from Surgix.

“The fitting of prosthesis is a process. You have to fit it and walk, and fit it and walk, so it takes time to get adjusted to it — [in terms of] your body, plus it's an appendage,” she said.

“I really want to express my true feelings and gratitude to Mr Boban and his team, and also to my friends and the sponsors who assisted me in the fund-raiser...” Roper added.

Meanwhile, Boban told Your Health Your Wealth that Surgix gets its prosthetic solutions from Ossur, a global company that develops, manufactures and sells non-invasive orthopaedic equipment.

“The technology that we are introducing now doesn't require a lot of [things that we would have to wait months to get it]... we can almost do it (fit a limb) the same day.

“It is a business where we are zeroing in on the capabilities of this particular subset of a group who, for the most part, do not have too much disposable income to spend on a prosthesis, but they certainly have a right to be able to move around and earn a living and regain some lifestyle that they were used to pre-amputation,” he reasoned.

He said, too, that Ossur has given a minimum guarantee, for the most part, of one-year warranty for prosthetic solutions. Also, Boban said the expertise is being developed locally for every element of the limb replacement programme.

“We are developing the expertise here on the ground, so we can deal with things on the ground and across the island. It is not a one-off 'let me bring it in and I come and do it for you'. No, this is technology transfer and teaching people here how to roll these things out.

“We want everybody to have the ability to know and grow and access the technology,” he insisted.

Surgix is looking to reach 100 people across the island in the next 12 months.

“When we have 100 we can have a group or association of prosthetic patients who we can talk to about how we can make their lives a little easier, if you will; how do we get employment for these guys; how do we get them back into being more active. Maybe then we can approach the Government for some special rehab for prosthetic patients,” he reasoned.

The CEO said he is excited to get the programme off the ground.

“I am really excited to get this thing started and I am really excited to make this thing accessible for people who have not had the ability to access quality product to make them mobile again.... we just want to get people moving 'round again; we just want to bring First-World to Jamaica. It'll level the playing field for the average Jamaican,” Boban said.

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