400 Dinthill Technical students benefit from free health fair; continues today

Friday, August 18, 2017

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MORE than 400 students of Dinthill Technical High School in St Catherine were yesterday treated to free medical and dental checks on day one of a two-day health fair on the school's compound.

The health fair, which is in its second year, was hosted by the Florida chapter of the school's alumni association, and is aimed at easing the financial burden on parents who are mandated to pay for their children to do medical checks before returning to school.

Coordinator for this year's mission, Margaret Watt-Walker, said the chapter decided to host another back-to-school health fair because of the overwhelming success of the last medical mission, when the team assisted almost 800 students.

“This year we have more people than last year, there are 42 of us here from Florida — doctors, dentist, nurse practitioners and nurses, and we also have volunteers. Today, we are seeing the first-, second- and third-formers and tomorrow we will see fourth-, fifth- and sixth-formers,” she said, noting that the team anticipated seeing over 1,000 students this year.

“We are giving back to our school... we are responsible for the students to bring them up the way we were brought up so we keep giving back to them; and we brought down books, sneakers and little back-to-school gifts for the students,” Watt-Walker added.

Medical director of the mission, past student of Dinthill, Dr Cyrus McCalla, who is an obstetrician-gynaecologist, said it has been an honour for the team to give back to the school community.

“This is absolutely important to us as graduates. I graduated from Dinthill in 1976 and went to the US, became a medical doctor, so when the opportunity came up to give back it was no question,” he said. “We are here with a number of physicians, nurses and dentist, who have taken time off from their jobs to see the students and the needs are taken care of without charge. The gratitude from students and parents have been tremendous.”

One of the volunteers, 19-year-old Joene Gileguy, whose mother is a past student of the institution, said she was equally elated to be part of the mission.

“I love to volunteer; it's just a very rewarding experience. It has been very nice here and the people are nice,” she said

The parents, who were seen patiently waiting with their children to take advantage of the services, expressed gratitude and appreciation for the properly organised mission and for the quality service that they received.

A guardian who gave her name only as Joy, who was there with her grandson, a seventh-grader, said: “I am just happy about what is taking place here; it has really helped me and my grandchild,” she said.

Second-time beneficiary, Joan, the mother of an eighth-grader, said: “It's a very good gesture and it is overwhelming to know that past students are giving back because some don't remember us, and they are giving us a packaged deal here.”

Kerry-Ann, who came with her son, a first-former, said that they were all grateful as it would have cost them a lot of money to do the dental, medical and eye checks. Additionally, she said the doctors and the nurses were very patient and spent time talking to them and sharing information.

“It's well-organised and you can feel that they are doing it from their hearts and they interact well with the students. We really appreciate them and appeal to other past students to come along,” said another parent, Janet Provost.

In the meantime, the school's vice-principal Monica White said the school is appreciative of the medical mission and the ongoing support of the past students

“We are extremely grateful to the past students who have come out to assist our students and, as you can see, the turnout has been very overwhelming and the parents are happy that they can get this break from paying for the medical. We have had doctors, dentists, nurses, and we also had the public health personnel who are here to look about the student immunisation to ensure that they are fully immunised or immunised. Today has been a success and we look forward to tomorrow,” she said.

— Tanesha Mundle

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