Friday 20 September, 2019

Health ministry will vet US ship providing free health care

The Ministry of Health and Wellness in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs, is coordinating a voluntary medical mission by the United States Naval Ship (USNS) Comfort, due to be in Saint Lucia from September 23 to October 2, 2019.

The ship will be berthed at Port Castries and two ‘walk in’ clinics will be set up at the OKEU hospital and one other site, to provide general clinical services. All services are provided free of charge and are available for all who would need care. There is no pre-registration or appointment necessary for the clinics. Persons can simply walk in and request medical care.

Under the national coordination of the Department of External Affairs, an initial coordinating meeting was held on July 18, 2019 with the Ministry of Health, representatives of the USNS delegation and key Ministries including Ministry of Finance, Agriculture, Home Affairs, Immigration, Saint Lucia Fire Service, OECS Commission and office of the Prime Minister. All parties are working together to facilitate a safe and organised voluntary health mission.

All visiting medical staff participating in the mission will be vetted as per legal requirements by the respective Medical and Dental, Pharmacy, Nursing and Allied Health Councils. Practitioners who satisfy the requirements for licensing and registration will be authorized to practice.

A list of all medication and medical supplies to be used during the mission has been requested and is currently being vetted by the Drug Inspector, in keeping with the laws of Saint Lucia.

As we have done in the past with other visiting health missions, our local health teams will be working alongside the visiting volunteers. A register of patients seen will be kept and all cases will be referred to local health professionals as necessary, for follow up to ensure continuity of care. Patients seeking surgical care should be accompanied by a family member or friend before care is granted.

General services to be provided include basic medical evaluation and treatment, preventive medicine, dental screenings and treatments, optometry screenings and provision of glasses, Internal medicine, Paediatrics, Dermatology, women’s health, physical therapy and provision of medication as needed.

The USNS Comfort will be providing diagnostic services and surgical care. The services provided are at US quality of care standards. The ship has allocated 100 admission beds and 30 ICU beds to St. Lucia, for our use during the medical mission. Diagnostic procedures include CT scan, Ultrasounds, X-Ray and other procedures. A wide range of minor surgical procedures will also be available. Our local health and medical practitioners will also be working alongside the visiting medical practitioners, aboard the medical ship.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness is pleased that Saint Lucia was chosen to participate in this humanitarian mission and encourages all to make full use of this opportunity for free medical care.

For further information contact Dr Sharon Belmar- George, Medical Officer of Health, at 468-5386, 468-5309, 468-5310.

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