Jamaicans return home to invest in health sector


Sunday, July 30, 2017

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AFTER living in the United Kingdom (UK) for 22 years, Dainty Powell packed her bags and returned to the land of her birth to establish the Zierlich International Dialysis Centre in Montego Bay, St James, with her partner, Andre Nelson, a year ago.

Powell, a dialysis nurse, had always had a desire to come back to Jamaica and be of service to her country. Nelson, also a Jamaican living in the UK, shared her vision.

His decision to invest in the dialysis centre was, in part, influenced by the personal struggles of his aunt, who suffers from chronic kidney disease and wanted to come home to Jamaica.

He explains that because his aunt requires dialysis, he wanted to be certain that she would have a place to go for care when she was in Jamaica.

Nelson notes that being afflicted with kidney disease does not mean that people cannot travel, but they just need to know that they can receive the required treatment at their destination.

“We wanted to provide the service, so with Dainty's experience, we thought that we could actually come back and make a difference,” he adds.

The couple was guided in their decision-making by a feasibility study, which showed that there was great need for a dialysis centre in western Jamaica. The study also directed them to locate the facility in Montego Bay.

They decided that not only would they provide dialysis treatment, but also bring high levels of proactivity, health awareness, and continued patient support to the table. “We wanted to do something different,” Nelson says.

The Zierlich International Dialysis Centre, which opened in July 2016, is managed by Miss Powell and has six full-time employees.

Costing approximately 500,000 to set up, the facility is equipped with seven dialysis machines, but can accommodate 12.

It is located in a purpose-built medical complex which treats patients with other ailments, providing them with a holistic health experience.

Nelson says clients are offered package deals with a variety of payment options. He notes that patients with chronic kidney disease require a minimum of two to three dialysis sessions per week, but many Jamaicans can afford just two, and sometimes only one.

He asserts that the centre has not turned anyone away since its opening.

“We've worked out payment plans and they 've always come back and paid,” he says.

He notes that, to date, the centre has provided over 70 sessions free of cost.

Sheraine Ebanks Campbell, whose sister has been a regular patient since January of this year, is very appreciative of the centre's customer-friendly approach and the professionalism of the staff. She describes the care as excellent.

“Dialysis takes a lot of time and money. With Zierlich, it has been manageable and the nurses have been warm. When I stepped into Zierlich, I felt like it was a place that I could leave my sister and not have to worry. It was warm, friendly and cozy and Miss Dainty (Powell) made it very easy. I explained the situation to her and she was understanding and told us what she was willing to do for us,” she says.

Employees of the centre are also excited about the work they do. As a patient care technician, Patricia Henry's job is to prepare machines for the patients and assist with records, but she also sits and talks with patients and attends to their needs.

“It has been a wonderful experience working here. I learn new things every day and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve people in this way,” she says.

The Zierlich International Dialysis Centre caters to both local and international patients. The innovative couple has also added a pick-up and drop-off service to the business.

“Treatment sessions are usually four hours, so what obtained in the past is that a family member would accompany the patient and be stuck at the centre for hours. We decided that we could do a pickup and drop-off service to include pre-screening and so remove the hassle from the process,” Nelson explains.

This option gives overseas-based patients, who are visiting the island, the freedom and flexibility to attend sessions without being dependent on someone to take them.

As members of the Jamaican Diaspora, both Powell and Nelson are proud of their contribution to the country.

The couple was among delegates at the Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference, held from July 23 to 26 at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, under the theme: 'Partnering for Growth'.




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