Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 07, 2016 (SKNIS): Three officials from the World Pediatric Project (WPP) were in St. Kitts and Nevis investigating the expansion of the collaborative arrangement with the Federation that enables children to receive beneficial and life-saving medical treatment and surgery abroad on January 05.
During the brief visit, Susan Rickman, WPP President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO); and WPP Board Members Dr. Brian Clarke and Simon Carey, attended a meeting with key pediatric and general health partners including a private charity. The WPP officials then paid a courtesy call on Governor General His Excellency Sir S.W. Tapley Seaton, and toured the pediatric and maternity wards at the Joseph N. France (JNF) General Hospital.
CEO Rickman explained that the service to the children of the Eastern Caribbean is based in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. She said that patients go there for medical attention from the other islands of the region. The objective of the expansion is to increase the number of children who are helped.
“We’re taking care of quite a few children, but we know we need to reach more, so we know we need to scale up our programmes that we’re offering down here [Eastern Caribbean], and really get more into the other countries like St. Kitts and Nevis,” Ms. Rickman said, explaining that ensuring that children receive necessary health care is her “passion.”
She said the one day visit to the Federation would clarify the role of those involved in assisting the children and chart the way forward in how processes can run more smoothly, and effectively benefit the patients. As such, it was critical to meet with policy-makers, doctors, donor organsations and other key players who would assist in the expansion.
“So on top of that, we are looking towards growing our funds so we can scale it up,” Ms. Rickman said, noting that funding should also be sought locally. She explained that annually, WPP hosts two major auctions in St. Louis, USA, along with other fundraisers that support the life-saving activities undertaken by her organization.
Honourable Eugene Hamilton, whose St. Kitts and Nevis’ ministerial portfolio includes both Health and Social Services, through which persons may seek free medical assistance, emphasized that he is a proponent of public and private sector partnerships. He further assured that the comprehensive national health insurance that his ministry is working on would assist in ensuring that medical care is more accessible to residents.
“I believe that St. Kitts and Nevis has to see itself in a position of promoting healthcare, since it is one of the fundamental rights of our people,” Minister Hamilton emphasized. He qualified Ms. Rickman’s call for local assistance by encouraging those attending the meeting to reach out to philanthropists who can source funding for worthy causes such as the healthcare of children.
The WPP CEO explained that the outreach to the Eastern Caribbean started in St. Vincent and the Grenadines because Richmond, Virginia, where WPP is based, had connections with the territory through doctors, and other key health officials who were already familiar with the island’s governmental officials and hospital administrators.
“So it became a natural thing for us to start coming down and looking at taking care of their kids in St. Vincent,” Ms. Rickman said. “And then we started looking and really knowing that if St. Vincent had all these needs, then the surrounding islands must have the same needs too. So kind of reaching out and having conversations, sure enough we realized that they did.”
It was explained that the government in St. Vincent and the Grenadines was very open and the hospital allowed the use of its operating facilities, its wards and nurses and facilitated the other needs of the visiting doctors.
“Then we reached out with agreements in the other countries to say this is how this could work – to bring the kids in and to meet up with our specialty teams,” Ms. Rickman said, noting that WPP facilitates sub-specialty teams in urology, a spine only orthopedic team, a general surgery team out of John Hopkins, opthtomology, plastic surgery/reconstruction, pediatric cardiology, physical therapy, and pediatric neural surgery.
She explained that each medical team goes to St. Vincent during a specific month each year for the past 13 to 14 years. She further noted that it is usually the same doctors, surgeons and nurses who make the commitment to provide their services each year. This, she said, ensures that local doctors know which months to prepare patients with the specified medical ailments to travel to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.