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Free medical!

US health team visits Coley Mountain

BY ALICIA SUTHERLAND Observer staff reporter sutherlanda@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, February 10, 2014    

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Residents of Coley Mountain and surrounding communities in north-west Manchester turned out in their hundreds recently to receive free medical services from a team of American volunteers.

Doctors, including general practitioners, paediatricians, dentists, opticians, as well as nurses - all part of the US medical team - were kept busy meeting the needs of the large crowd of adults and children at Coley Mountain Primary School.

Other visiting professionals, including members of the New York Police Department, provided support services such as the registration of patients.

A grateful principal of Coley Mountain Primary, Millicent Watson, said children from her school as well as others in north-west Manchester benefited immensely from the intervention by the visiting volunteers.

More than the 350 people who were expected, inclusive of adults and children, had turned up for help, she said.

"I think it is a very good initiative," Watson said. "Many of the students had issues that they want to deal with, but for some reason or the other some of them were not looked after ... (The medical team) coming here provided an ideal opportunity for the students to access those services," she added.

Watson pointed out that most parents had no insurance plans and struggled to afford medical services such as dental care.

Douglas Renford, an adult resident of the neighbouring Lyndhurst community, told the Jamaica Observer Central he had been waiting a long time to have his eyes checked and he was able to do so during the volunteers' visit.

Also, he said, his blood pressure was checked and he saw a doctor about a rash on his skin.

In some cases, patients received medication and prescription glasses.

Chairman of the school board Jasmine Dwyer said the "set-up" was also educational since students got the opportunity to see medical practitioners at work with their instruments.

"It is also a learning process," she said.

Students would be engaged in classes such as Language Arts to write about what they had seen and experienced, she said.

Past student of Coley Mountain Primary Beverly Foster, who now works as a nurse practitioner in New York, told theObserver Central that the medical team has been visiting Jamaica on volunteer missions since early 2000.

"It's just really a good feeling to be able to come back to help," she said.

The medical team has visited a number of other countries including Haiti, Ethiopia, Ghana, Grenada, and Tanzania.

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