History made at Falmouth hospital
FALMOUTH, Trelawny — Doctors have performed a historic laparoscopic surgery at Falmouth Public General Hospital here.
It occurred last Thursday, days after the US-based Jamaican Awareness Association of California (JAAC) handed over equipment valued at US$300,000 (around $45 million) to the medical institution to establish laparoscopy services there.
The doctors are all members of JAAC.
On Friday there was a mood of euphoria among stakeholders, including Senior Medical Officer (SMO) Dr Leighton Perrins who could not contain his joy regarding the establishment of laparoscopy services at the Type B facility, which resulted in the historical surgery.
“This is a historical moment. It is the first laparoscopic surgery done at the Falmouth Public General Hospital,” Dr Perrins expressed.
The laparoscopic procedure was used to remove a gall bladder from patient Marcia Johnson. If the jubilant mood in which the patient was captured on Friday, a day after the historical surgery, is anything to go by then the procedure may be deemed successful.
Performing procedures the laparoscopic way, Dr Perrins argued, allows for less risk of infections and wound complications — and patients spend reduced periods in hospitals.
“It [laparoscopic surgery] shortens hospital stay; they [patients] eat quicker; they are back to baseline. She [Johnson] is up and about walking. A surgery like this done in a private setting would cost between $1.5 million and $2 million,” the SMO said.
He explained that laparoscopic surgery is not only done for general but also for gynaecological surgery.
“So for instance, somebody wants their tube tied, you can do it laparoscopically. You can remove uterus laparoscopically… hernias. There are a lot of surgeries that can be done laparoscopically so it’s a great, great addition,” Dr Perrins noted.
St Andrade Sinclair, director of the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), was also elated over the advent of laparoscopic services being offered at Falmouth.
“I welcome it, look forward to it, and hope that we can capitalise on this moment because we can not only get rid of our backlog, but it will be less stress — both on our staff and our purse and everything. It gets people back to work quick, quick, quick, and it cut back on major surgery because this is now minimally invasive,” Sinclair said.
But none could be more overjoyed than fast-recovering patient Johnson, who volunteered for the surgery. She was spotted on the ward walking around without assistance.
“I am grateful — and it’s not only for me but is for the everyone who will benefit. And I am glad that they, JAAC, chose Falmouth in my parish, Trelawny. I am on my way to recovery,” the overjoyed Stewart Town native declared.
Over the years JAAC’s medical team has left its mark at other medical institutions, among them Annotto Bay, Savanna-la-Mar, Mandeville, Victoria Jubilee, Princess Margaret, May Pen, and Kingston Public hospitals.
The charity organisation’s President Patrick Williams told reporters that Thursday’s surgery by JAAC doctors also doubled as training for local doctors.
“So it was also not just a surgery but a training surgery. So for those observing and participating, they get an opportunity to see how to manage those surgeries,” Williams explained, adding that “but they should be certified to use that unit to operate”.
Williams said the establishment of the laparoscopic services was just the beginning of JAAC’s partnership with the Falmouth hospital, going forward.
“We are not just donating and walking away, we are going to be in [a] relationship (in other words) with them. Our doctors are going to come out and do some needs assessment. They will come out, they will do training, and so they will allow doctors who are interested in doing laparoscopic surgeries to get certified so they can use that tower,” said Williams who now lives in the US but who hails from Montego Bay.
He revealed that JAAC started working with Annotto Bay two decades ago, when they set up the same laparoscopy tower and unit.
“We have done training with them, and before them we have done many surgeries over the years, each time during our mission trip. So it is a real partnership that we have with Annotto Bay. And despite that, we are trying to take on another hospital — which doesn’t mean that we have cut our rationship with Annotto Bay because they are still a part of the JAAC family — but we are still expanding and making reach to other facilities,” he said.
He noted that the relationship with Falmouth hospital and the JAAC began to germinate over “the last two, three years”.
“We have been talking about expanding our reach where we want to take on the western Jamaica. The eastern side of Jamaica has been receiving quite a bit of support and so we decided that we are going to decide and expand and come this side of western Jamaica,” Williams said.
“So I think it is time that we give some level of support to this side. Now Savanna-la-Mar we have worked with also, and we want to see how this programme works on this side before we take another hospital on,” he added.