Health care professionals at The University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) are eagerly anticipating the acquisition of medical equipment to assist in the treatment of several life-threatening neurological disorders, says Dr. Francene Gayle, Consultant Physician and Neurologist at UHWI.
The US$45,000 plasmapheresis machine, funded through a grant from the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) Foundation is slated to arrive in the island within six to eight weeks. The funding agreement was signed between the Foundation and The UHWI at the Hospital last week (June 19).
Dr. Gayle, who is also a Lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine at The University of the West Indies (UWI), said, “The Spectra Optia digital plasmapheresis machine will be the first of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean and will treat more than 100 persons hospitalised annually, with three main neurological conditions: myasthenia gravis; guillain barre syndrome and neuro myelitis optica.”
She explained that the machine is designed to filter the blood of affected patients, separating and discarding dangerous components which cause debilitating symptoms including paralysis and the need for a ventilator for breathing. Without it some patients remain in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit for weeks and up to months for treatment, and there is a high mortality rate associated with these diseases.
“Our main aim as Health Care professionals is to save lives and increase the likelihood of returning patients to their functional status,” Dr. Gayle declared.
Reducing the Health Care burden
Long hospital stays for critically ill patients also impacts the already high cost burden for them, their families, the hospital, insurance companies and the Government, amounting to several millions of dollars per year, she pointed out. The new equipment will result in significant cost savings in the health system.
“I am elated at the level of corporate social responsibility displayed by Jamaica National through its Foundation,” Dr. Gayle commented, adding that, “They readily sought to assist us in acquiring the equipment and I crave that other private sector organisations will emulate their example and partner with the Department of Medicine, as we seek to improve care levels for patients with neurological diseases.”
During the signing, Professor Michael Lee, Professor of Medicine and Gastroenterology and Head of the Department of Medicine, UWI, also expressed gratitude for the donation. “We thank JN Foundation for their generosity which will advance the management of severely ill neurological patients; as well as, the teaching of medical and post-graduate students in the Faculty of Medical Sciences, and Research.”
Responding to comments by the medical team, Carlton Barclay, JNBS Deputy General Manager and Director of the JN Foundation said the organisation did not hesitate to partner with the university on this project, which impacts the medical needs of many Jamaicans.
“Health is perhaps the single most important thing in a person’s life; therefore, we welcome the fact that the equipment will constitute another first for the health sector in Jamaica; and, we are proud to be involved with this pioneering move to efficiently and effectively treat severe neurological disorders,” Mr. Barclay affirmed.
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