Negril 'ortho' clinic returns after 20-month break due to novel coronavirus pandemicThursday, September 02, 2021
NEGRIL, Westmoreland — More than 60 children were recently provided with orthotics care at the Riu-funded Negril Paediatric Orthopaedic clinic, which recently returned to action following a 20-month hiatus brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The clinic provides lower limb orthotics made in North America, donated by families to assist children who are afflicted with deformed feet resulting from conditions such as spina bifida and cerebral palsy.
These orthotics, or braces for feet, are retrofitted at the clinic's workshop in Negril and given to patients at no cost to them. The clinic, which is serviced by specialists from Canada and the United States who volunteer their time, is usually held four times per year.
As usual, as part of the hotel chain's “charitable accommodation” programme, Riu recently accommodated the entire medical team out of the US and Canada involved in the colossal social project.
The clinic has been operating in Negril for over 12 years, hosting four three-day missions carried out by the volunteer doctors each year. This year, however, a fifth trip is expected to make up for the time lost in the children's treatment due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
According to project coordinator Elaine Allen Bradley, a retired nurse, during the 20-month absence of the clinics, she was constantly in contact by telephone with the patients' parents advising them to ensure that the children “exercise and stretch, out of fear of them outgrowing the braces and return to starting point.”
“...Every day I am on the phone because when you put the braces on the kids you have to follow up to make sure, especially because we didn't have a clinic since COVID [outbreak], that the kids exercise and stretch. The kids' bones are young and if they don't get exercises and stretching and they outgrow the braces they will go straight back to square one and we did not want that,” she explained.
She expressed a sigh of relief after realising at the recent clinic that the patients followed her instructions.
“When we had that clinic in July I was so glad. They (parents) complied to advice. We saw over 60 patients and not one of them had gone back to square one. So the parents were doing the exercises,” Allen Bradley said, adding that the clinic was originally designed for western Jamaica but now is attracting patients, up to eight-year-old, from all across the country.
The Spanish hotel chain, which has been covering the clinic's monthly $35,000 rent and maintenance costs since it was opened in 2009, also accommodates all doctors who offer treatment on a voluntary basis at the clinic.
Allen Bradley highlighted RIU's unflinching support of the clinic over time.
“Riu gives me everything I need to run the clinic efficiently and professionally. If I say to them give me $100,000, they give it to me. So RIU is very much integral and every month they give me money to put into the clinic's account,” Bradley said.
“During COVID we needed a few more chairs because you cannot have all of them [children] sitting in the clinic, you have to have some of them sitting outside, and RIU ensured that they were there.”