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US medical team provides foot, leg care in St James

Sunday, April 21, 2019

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A team of young doctors from the United States last month visited the island and provided much-needed foot and leg care to residents in St James over a two-day period.

The team, which was led by Dr Rusheena Bartlett, whose mother Beverley Beckford is a Jamaican now living in Florida, held podiatry clinics at the Barrett Town Health Centre, Flankers Health Centre and The Providence Chapel UPCJ in the parish.

The doctors who provided care included: Dr Rachel Reece, Dr Alison Salter, Dr Sandra Franco, Dr Sara Rose, and Dr Errol Scarlette.

The team of doctors, supported by Beckford, sponsored themselves and provided all the equipment and supplies needed for the podiatry mission.

Local nurses and clinical staff assisted them and went beyond their call of duty to ensure the project ran smoothly.

I sat down with Dr Bartlett to find out the motivation for this mission.

Q: Dr Bartlett, why did you decide to do a podiatry mission in Jamaica?

A: With my family being from Jamaica, I was already very familiar with the country. However, I only became aware of the podiatric needs following a previous medical mission to Kingston in 2016. From that point forward I decided to make it my goal to assist the country in any way possible, using my skills and medical training.

Q: How difficult was the process of organising the trip?

A: Organising the trip was quite challenging, at times, but also rewarding. The planning came together over a five-month period. Members of the Lower Extremities Outreach Foundation and myself came together and made the necessary contacts. After gathering the required information, we invested a lot of time and effort, securing generous donations and contributions. All in all, the effort was well worth it.

Q: How did you recruit the other doctors?

A: Once the mission trip was presented, I received overwhelming support from my colleagues and friends. We were therefore able to create a great team with relative ease.

Q: What facilities did the doctors come from in the US?

A: The doctors came from hospitals in South Florida and New York.

Q: How did you find the state of podiatry in Jamaica?

A: It is very evident that there is a dire need for podiatric services and awareness in Jamaica. Many of the patients we encountered lacked some of the basic care we had to provide, such as proper debridement of pre-ulcerated lesions, regular wound care and decent dressings. We were very surprised to see the prevalence of diabetes in the communities we visited. Diabetes plays a significant role in lower extremity pathology.

Q: How were you received by the patients and locals?

A: The patients and staff were very receptive and appreciative. We had great pleasure providing them with well-needed care.

Q: Will you be coming back to Jamaica? If so, when?

A: Yes, we definitely plan on returning in spring 2020. Overall, we would like to make this an annual trip.

Angela Davis BSc (Hons) DPodM MChS is a podiatrist with offices in Montego Bay (293- 7119), Mandeville (962-2100), Ocho Rios (974-6339), Kingston (978-8392), and Savanna-la-Mar (955-3154). She is a member of the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom.


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