Second generation Jamaican donates medical supplies to health sector
When his grandfather died at a Jamaican hospital recently, the most uncommon thought crossed his mind — how could he improve the situation.
Kenneth Jackson, a 24-year-old health care consultant, then endeavoured to start a “business that gives back” by selling premium quality stethoscopes for charity. The company, StethoHope, promises to donate a stethoscope to a medical facility in a developing country for every stethoscope purchased from its website www.stethohope.com.
“It was inspired by seeing my grandfather pass away in Spanish Town Hospital and the lack of resources and care that was there. I didn’t know what to do. Just knowing that my grandfather wasn’t going to make it from the hospital alive, made me feel like there wasn’t hope for him and for everyone else in the hospital who needed care,” Jackson said of the genesis.
“I wasn’t the doctor in the family, but I always had a passion for health care growing up and wanted to give back in health care. The business of health care was kind of my part in giving back, and using my business mind and my heart, I wanted to really give back to Jamaica.”
Jackson reasoned that the company now focuses on stethoscopes as the tool is an immediate identifier for a medical professional.
“The stethoscope is really the heart of health care, the heart of when you see a medical professional. It’s the oldest medical instrument that’s still being used. Psychology has shown that when you see a medical professional wearing a stethoscope, it causes the patients less anxiety, more trust with the medical professional Â— just the sight of a stethoscope around a doctor’s neck.
“So that’s kind of where,you know the stethoscope. when to think of healthcare you think of stethoscope, you think of medical professional, so it is kind of the mascot of a doctor so that’s where I wanted to start. With stethoscope I wanted to build a brand around giving that hope, so that’s where the name came from and that’s where everything kind of came from, it’s from there. ”
Born to Jamaican parents in the United States of America, Jackson refused to forget his roots and intends to give back to the country he loves and “was pretty much raised in”.
He made his first donation last Thursday to the Jamaica Cancer Society. The organisation in turn shared the gift of 30 stethoscopes with four other health facilities —the Bustamante Hospital for Children, the Heart Foundation of Jamaica, Cornwall Regional Hospital (St James) and the Spanish Town Hospital (St Catherine).
“The Jamaica Cancer Society is extremely pleased to be playing a dual role today as beneficiary and benefactor. Thanks to Kenny for his generous contribution to the Jamaica Cancer Society,” executive director of the organisation Yulit Gordon stated.
“Kenny has always been in pursuit of excellence, a very disciplined young man, even as a child. Very focused, very respectful and, you know, we are very, very proud of him, and especially in today’s society where parents are so concerned about their children’s well-being and their future, you know we see what is happening in our Jamaican society and it is very encouraging that Kenny is being a role model for others to emulate,” she added, explaining that she has been a part of the young man’s life through her friendship with his mother.
Representatives from the other health facilities told the Jamaica Observer that the equipment would go a far way in helping them to care for the populace.
“A stethoscope is a must as a part of our daily work, especially in the cardiology department because we always have to be listening to the children’s heart and so these stethoscopes will go a long way into facilitating our health care at the Bustamante Hospital in how we look after our patients,” Sharonne Forrester from the Bustamante Hospital for Children stated.
Meanwhile, Delroy Fray, Senior Medical Officer at the Cornwall Region Hospital revealed that the tool will bolster the efforts of the cardiology unit in the west.
“We have one doctor who runs that department and I would say it’s in the stage of development for that region. We really should have more cardiologists to service the western region. This certainly will be an addition to what we have there and I’m sure it will be quite helpful,” Fray told the Sunday Observer.
“We are looking to set a state-of-the-art cancer unit and every patient that is going for chemotherapy needs cardiology consultation, so it comes in very nicely, fits in very well with what we are planning to do,” he continued.
The stethoscopes could not have come at a better time for the Heart Foundation of Jamaica, which is currently celebrating Heart Month.
“It just came right in time, [it will] come very handy because we do a lot of in-the-field work as we go out, and it would help the technicians who are going out who have to do the BP checks and all of that. It’s going to be used within the organisation itself for all the persons that need it. So it comes in the right time; it’s a nice Heart Month gift,” K Morrish Cooke, communications officer at the foundation said.
“Thanks to Yulit and the cancer society for sharing. We have worked together in partnership doing quite a lot of different projects, and we really appreciate the sharing of the gift. It’s really, really, really, fantastic and I am very proud of the young man, very proud of him. There is hope,” she added.
The youth’s father and uncle beamed with glee as they witnessed the handing over of the new medical equipment to the various health facilities.
“We’re very proud of him because, at his age, most persons are not focused on giving back anything, it’s all about me. So for him to really create this to give back, I’m really proud of him, that’s all I can say, really really proud of him,” his father Kenneth Jackson (senior) noted.
Added his uncle Richard Oliver: “For such a young guy to think about giving back to me is not something that is commonly seen so it’s a very proud and humbling moment, and we know he’s going to go places with that type of heart.”
The entrepreneur outlined his hope to extend his donation globally.
“We’re targeting Jamaica right now but I’m partnering with other organisations also to give back to places like Cuba and other countries [like] Haiti. So we’re really starting with Jamaica. This is where I’m from, this is where I have my roots, this is where I saw the impact first-hand, but as I continue to grow I want to reach out to other organisations as well who really give back,” he stated.
“And that’s another thing too...there are a lot of charities that say they give back but you don’t really see it or you don’t know, but we’re really being transparent about giving back and tracking for every stethoscope that you actually purchase. You can track where it goes to, what organisation, who is receiving it, and having that transparency for the person who purchases the stethoscope,” Jackson continued.
The young visionary indicated that his goal will be to supply scrubs and other medical supplies for customers.