Shaggy foundation supporting Bustamante Hospital for over 20 years
KINGSTON, Jamaica – For more than 20 years, Jamaican entertainer and international recording artiste, Orville “Shaggy” Burrell and his Shaggy Make a Difference Foundation have supported the Bustamante Hospital for Children (BHC) programme of ‘mending little hearts’.
Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon at the hospital, Dr Sherard Little said the foundation’s involvement with the health facility has served the institution well, adding that the impact has been “quite significant”.
Dr Little pointed out that while the contributions over the years can be quantified in terms of money spent or donated to the hospital, concerts held and pieces of equipment provided, “what you can’t quantify is the number of lives that have been touched”.
He contended that Shaggy’s commitment to the paediatric health facility over the years is unrivalled.
Dr Little informed that the foundation has staged six concerts and donated more than US$2 million as well as more than 1,000 pieces of equipment.
He noted that the organisation’s single largest spend on equipment related to the hospital’s cardiac programme.
“They were the major donors in the purchase of a cardiac catheterisation laboratory, the cost of which was in excess of US$1 million,” he indicated.
Dr Little adds that the foundation has also donated ventilators, monitors, IV poles, furniture, and syringe pumps.
The consultant surgeon said prior to the purchase of the cardiac catheterisation lab, patients who needed this specialised investigation would have to go to the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) to get it done in the Radiology Department.
This, he said, had several logistical challenges, including moving patients from the Bustamante Hospital to the UHWI and doing procedures in their radiology unit, which, at the time, was not well equipped to support paediatric patients.
“So, it was very challenging for patients to get investigations done, and there was no other hospital within the public sector which had a cardiac cath lab,” Dr Little pointed out.
“Bustamante is the first hospital in the public sector to have a cardiac cath lab, which not only allows children to get this important investigation done, but, in some patients with cardiac problems, we can actually do procedures to correct the condition which they have,” he shared.
Dr Little adds that conditions such as holes in the heart or ducts that haven’t closed, can be addressed in the cardiac cath lab instead of putting the child through surgery and getting a cut on the chest.
“Having a cardiac cath lab at ‘Busta’, which is always available to our patients, has gone a long way in terms of making this investigation more readily available to those who need it, more so the children” he contended.
The consultant surgeon stated the normal procedure in determining how the funds are spent is that the staff would be invited to submit a wish list and the Foundation would utilise the funds that were generated from their various fundraising activities to purchase these pieces of equipment and then donate them to the hospital.
He noted that many of the patients and their parents have been able to identify the equipment donated by the Foundation as being those that gave them a fighting chance.
“Most of the equipment were labelled within the hospital, and just by walking around and being in contact with the various things, you can see the impact that Shaggy has made in terms of these donations,” Dr Little highlighted.
“Tangibly, the patients and the parents can see that, as well, and they may say this is a ventilator that was donated by Shaggy,” he added.
Dr Little shared that the foundation team recounts a story where Shaggy visited the hospital on one occasion, at which time there was a father at the institution who insisted that the entertainer visit his child in the ICU, because the youngster was being supported by a ventilator that was donated by the organisation.
“In tangible ways, he and the foundation have contributed to changing lives at BHC,” Dr Little noted.
The consultant surgeon pointed out that another important contribution made by the foundation is the role it has played in raising awareness of the hospital both locally and internationally.
He added that, in some ways, the name Shaggy has become synonymous with Bustamante Hospital, pointing out that this has encouraged other donors and partners, locally and internationally, to come on board and make tangible donations to the institution as well.
“So, Shaggy partnering with Bustamante has mushroomed or blossomed into a greater awareness of the hospital and its needs, and so we are able to benefit from this as well,” Dr Little emphasised.