Doc with $80-m needs list looking forward to help from Sigma Run

Doc with $80-m needs list looking forward to help from Sigma Run

Senior staff reporter

Friday, January 17, 2020

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DR Brian James, head of the department for anaesthesiology and critical care at Bustamante Hospital for Children (BHC), is looking forward to what he describes as “the final leg of a 4x100 metres relay”, which will see the donations from the 2020 Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run filling a void at the island's paediatric hospital.

“I look at the support of the hospital as a 4x100 metres relay, where the first leg and the second leg are taken care of by the Government — they take care of that part. [At] the top corner, we have donors that are pitching in right now, and what we need Sagicor for is to take us home — this [is the] final leg,” he said.

Dr James was speaking at this week's Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange, where he painted a grim picture of the level of need at BHC to editors, reporters and other beneficiaries of the 22nd staging of the popular road race.

While the needs list drafted by Dr James totals $80 million, and he and his team would be happy to receive all the items on it, he shared that the main issue at the hospital is that there is insufficient resources to adequately respond to the needs of babies who are very sick.

“The ones that have really complex situations — the ones that are really small... some of them if you fill [a] glass of water it is heavier than some of the children we have to deal with. In order to properly manage them, you have to be able to know every beat that the heart takes, for example, how fast it is going, is the rhythm okay, how much oxygen is getting to the brain, what the blood pressure that results from it is, and there are machines that tell you that. This is some of the machines that we would need,” he said.

“When you are doing an operation on such a child — these are very, very small organs, very tiny vessels and tissues — you need microscopes in order to see them and operate; you need very, very tiny instruments. The [patient] monitors have to be at a much higher level, because you have to then actually put the monitor inside of the patients' vessels and measure the blood pressure, for example, at that level,” Dr James continued.

Due to the fragile nature of neonates, the temperature of the environment also has to be controlled, and, as a result, there is also the need for machinery that can manipulate the torridity of rooms.

“You also need to be able to keep the environment in which we are going to manage the baby at a specific level. A baby who comes out at 32 weeks is not yet equipped to keep their temperature like you and I. [For example], if they come in this room and are exposed to the temperature in here, their temperature will go down to the room temperature and everything goes wrong when your temperature is like that. We need incubators and infant warmers to keep their temperature at the level where we need it,” he said.

The doctor went on to explain the need for instruments that would eliminate having to cut babies in order to operate on them.

“We also do some operations on babies where we don't need to use a scalpel — you don't need a knife, you don't need to open them. You need to use a tiny instrument to put it in whichever orifice it needs to go — endoscopic surgery — and you see whatever is inside, and you're able to make the corrections,” he said.

But, according to Dr James, most of these needs are more expensive than that of a general hospital, and, as a result, being a beneficiary of aid through the Sigma Run is important. He went on to make an impassioned plea for additional equipment.

“The babies are so vulnerable and so in need. These little ones, these little human beings, they actually need us to take care of every aspect of their existence. The only way we are able to do that is to be able to see every part of their physicality to be able to address it when it becomes abnormal,” Dr James said.

With 25 years of service to paediatrics in the public health sector and specifically 19 years at BHC, Dr James said there is no greater feeling than seeing children at death's door make a complete turnaround and live healthy lives.

“...Having a child, for example, in intensive care unit (ICU), where you are not certain whether they are going to make it, and fast-forward two years later and that child comes back to the ICU to say, 'Hi, Uncle Brian', you know they are doing well... I think that is the main reason I enjoy my work so much. You're actually able to make an incredible difference,” he said.

As such, he implored Jamaicans to register for the Sigma Corporate Run in order to make it count for the various beneficiaries. The run, which targets at least 25,000 participants, will take place on February 16.

The aim is to raise $55 million to purchase well-needed equipment for BHC and Savanna-La- Mar Public General Hospital, plus to help with the rebuilding of Clifton Boys' Home in Westmoreland.

Individuals interested in participating may register at Participants also have the option to complete a virtual run for which registration opens on January 20 at www.runningeventsja. com with a cost of J$2,500 or US$25.

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