Thu | Jan 17, 2019

Jeanann Bartley | If we all cared a bit more

Published:Wednesday | March 28, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Some time ago, Dr Alfred Dawes wrote a letter to The Gleaner editor pointing to the fact that low emotional intelligence is responsible for many Jamaicans being so aggressive.

Dr Dawes wrote the letter in response to the stone-throwing attack on the Falmouth Hospital by persons who were disappointed at the perceived lack of attention to their relative by doctors at that hospital's Accident and Emergency Department. The friends and family of the victim who subsequently died gave vent to their rage and pelted the hospital with stones, causing substantial damage.

I thought Dr Dawes' letter was a good diagnosis of the issue and agreed with much of what he said. My disappointment, however, came at the end of his letter. After pointing out that emotional intelligence can be cultivated and that persons can be trained to be empathetic and to act with restraint and not give in to their raw emotions, he went on to say: "As to how we are going to achieve this, I leave it in the hands of those with the higher IQs."

That comment I found disappointing, as again we seem to think that the solution for Jamaica is always someone else's responsibility.

Why should the good doctor feel comfortable to identify the problem but think someone else should care enough to fix it? This, I believe is at the heart of the problem in Jamaica.

No one wants to lift a finger to do anything but will feel passionate about the fact that someone else should. It would have been wonderful if Dr Dawes said that he would start by addressing this problem of emotional unintelligence with persons in his profession and to initiate a programme to help them to be emotional intelligent. Permit me to clarify. By his own words, Dr Dawes pointed out that empathy is a part of emotional intelligence. What about the many in the healthcare profession who seem to operate with little or no feeling of empathy?

I was prompted to write this letter of response to Dr Dawes (though his letter was published last month) as recently we learnt of the death of a three-year-old girl at Black River Hospital because she was ignored by healthcare professionals at the institution. It is an all-too-familiar story that many Jamaicans can relate to. The lack of empathy or emotional intelligence among some members of the healthcare profession is appalling!


Sickening indifference


Some years ago, my husband and I took our 11-week-old daughter to the Accident and Emergency Department of another hospital and the indifference to our baby daughter's plight was sickening! We were there at about 11 p.m. and left without getting any attention at 6 a.m. the next day. There were doctors chatting and laughing with each other while we sat in fear, praying desperately that our daughter would be OK. I know of numerous stories like mine and that of the little girl in Black River. People continue to lose their loved ones because of unfeeling medical personnel.

The challenge to become a more caring nation is not for the doctors and nurses alone but for all of us. If Jamaica is to be a better place, it is not enough to point fingers at one another and accuse the other of being the problem.

We must all get in the trenches and do something! We ignore the plight of others far too long and now we are all feeling it. Can you imagine how different Jamaica would be if attention was given to downtown Kingston as the epicentre of crime years ago? Now the venom of crime has worked its way throughout the entire island because of our vaulting lack of empathy or emotional intelligence.

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