Success of Code Care programme fuels call for work on Noel Holmes Hospital theatre
MONTHROPE… the parish needs that operating theatre (Photos: Anthony Lewis)

LUCEA, Hanover — Senior medical officer for the Noel Holmes Hospital Dr Patrice Monthrope is hoping that the success of surgeries recently done at the institution under the Ministry of Health and Wellness' Code Care programme will result in the fast-tracking of rehabilitation work on the hospital's major operating theatre which has been closed for about 20 years.

The institution now does surgeries in its smaller theatre and though that is far from ideal, with the help of the Code Care team they did 20 surgeries in the last week. Only two of these surgeries did not see participation of the team of six nurses who arrived from the USA between November 30 and December 1.

"I'm hoping that persons seeing what you can do with this, that it will spur them on to actually complete that next project, which I believe is on the books. The parish needs that operating theatre and with an operating theatre comes other things as well — human resources," Dr Monthrope told the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday.

He is confident that work will be done on the facility.

"It will come and I think it will be very impactful," he said.

In 2017 Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton gave a commitment that work would be done on the facility, a promise he repeated in 2020 during an interview with the Observer. Since then there has been no word on when work would get underway.

The lack of a major theatre was noted by the visiting team of nurses.

Among them is Jamaican-born Claudette Coleman who grew up and trained to be a nurse in the UK before migrating to the US. While she had high praise for Tufton and the initiative, she is of the view that with more resources and two operating theatres, more could have been accomplished.

"We are amazed at what we were able to accomplish with one theatre and a few instruments and supplies. Teamwork was huge and we accomplished a lot. Had we got two theatres going, we could have done twice as many patients, obviously because it was enough of us [US nurses] to accomplish that, and that was one of the drawbacks," she said.

"But I truly appreciate that Dr Tufton has embraced nursing. That's a highlight of this programme. I really wish for this programme to succeed. And if it means that I need to come back again in between my medical mission, I will come back to help to ensure that this succeeds. The six of us have agreed that we would have no problem sharing the experience with the other nurses that are willing to come down and do this," said an upbeat Coleman.

Through the Jamaica Awareness Association of California, she has participated in medical missions in the country for the past 21 years.

Coleman is just one of four of the Code Care nurses that have Jamaican roots. Also among them is Arlene Dryer-Salkey who did her first set of training at the Kingston School of Nursing between 1975 and 1978. She later did her midwifery training at Spaulding before working at the University Hospital. She worked there for approximately eight years before migrating to the US in 1988. In the US, she did her health-care administration degree at Iona University.

She noted that one of the stark differences between Jamaica and the US is the availability of instruments.

"We have things, you know, we don't have to run around looking for instruments. You know, all those stuff that you are short of in Jamaica because this is a smaller country," she explained.

"For instance, when we came on the mission, [Noel Holmes Hospital] didn't have a lot of stuff, but they made do with what they had. So we are careful with the products that we use there, compared to the United States where it is more in abundance," added Dryer-Salkey.

Like Dr Monthrope, she was impressed by what the team has accomplished while working in what is regarded as a minor operating theatre.

"It's a little more than a minor [theatre] because they had everything there; we did major surgeries in there because we did hysterectomy. That's not a minor procedure, that's a major procedure; and we did a minor procedure, which was hernia," she noted.

The Code Care team also included German-born Feruza Dilmurodovna Esanova who has been living and practising in the US for most of her life. She is an in vitro fertilisation manager at New York Presbyterian Hospital and has extensive experience in the intensive care, pre-op, intra-op and recovery units.

"I am so happy I came because this is my first medical mission — and it has been fantastic — as well as my first time in Jamaica. I had a great medical experience as well as a great cultural experience. The most positive was that we were able to accomplish so many procedures, surgeries and we had a great team. Great collaboration with nurses from other states as well as the team here [in Jamaica]. They have been really fantastic," stated Esanova.

"I learned so much from your nurses, they are super resourceful. They are doing great work with minimum resources and I think we were able to teach them a few things, exchange ideas and practices. So, that's been also really good. I think this project will have great result in the end because there are great people working in it and it's very well organised," she added.

Dr Monthrope lauded both the local and visiting teams for their work over the one-week period. The nurse and medical officers on the wards had played a vital role in keeping patients safe, he said.

"It is not about doing the surgery, it is about doing it safely and making sure that they recover, and that there are minimised complications and that's what the team was able to do," he said. "The entire team, we are very proud of them. We are very happy and proud of the team that came down. We were very thankful that they gave their time and it was a wonderful experience."

DRYER-SALKEY… we are careful with the products that we use there, compared to the United States where it is more in abundance
COLEMAN… had we got two theatres going, we could have done twice as many patients
ESANOVA… I learned so much from your nurses, they are super resourceful
Anthony Lewis

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