Fri | Nov 24, 2017

LASCO treats cancer patients at Hope Institute

Published:Friday | November 10, 2017 | 12:00 AM
From left: LASCO sales promotions coordinator Sandra Geohagan-Green and marketing manager for beverages, Catherine Goodall, are engaged by Hope Institute’s hospital administrator Cherie-Jay Dewar.

Team members of LASCO Affiliated Companies visited patients at the Hope Institute in Elletson Flats, Mona, St Andrew, recently as part of the entity's long-standing efforts to raise awareness and pay tribute to persons who have made steps in the battle against cancer.

Marketing manager for beverages at LASCO Distributors Limited (LDL), Catherine Goodall, explained that the main aim of the treat was to lift the spirits of those undergoing cancer treatments.

"Having experienced cancer first-hand with my grandfather, support, love, and understanding are key ingredients to motivating the fight against cancer. We just wanted to extend a 'feel good' moment, reminding the patients that people do care," Goodall said.

"Our promotions team served up a delectable Jamaican breakfast with LASCO breakfast items and iCool beverages. We even had a team member perform two poems; one which she entered in the JCDC competition last year. Our team was greeted by hugs, smiles and kind words by patients and staff at the Hope Institute. It was a heart-warming day and time well spent by all," Goodall added.

The Hope Institute, founded by the Jamaica Cancer Society in 1963, started as a 52-bed institution which provided cancer care comparable to that of private intuitions overseas at little or no charge.

Though funded by the Ministry of Health since 1974, the speciality hospital, which falls under the auspices of the South East Regional Health Authority, is in dire need of financial support to help offset infrastructural issues, particularly bed space and building repairs.

 

Going the extra mile for patients

 

According to director of nursing services at the Hope Institute, Matron Adella Hibbert, who started as a registered nurse at the hospital 33 years ago, more growth is needed even as the institution lends support to the University Hospital of the West Indies and the Kingston Public Hospital.

"We [currently] have a capacity to hold 40 patients. However, we also run a chemotherapy clinic, and because of that we had to convert some of the bed spaces to recliner chairs. We also have to use beds for the radiotherapy patients from the Kingston Public Hospital," Hibbert said.

"Cancer patients can be referred by any medical practitioner, and we get referrals islandwide. It's just that a lot of times, persons believe that it's a place where you just come and transition - which is not so. And because of that, what happens a lot of times is, when a patient is referred to us, the consultant generally will make a decision whether or not the patient is a candidate for admission; because sometimes they are also seen at home - to minimise the hospital stay and reduce costs ... depending on the case and the geographical location of the patient," Hibbert added.

As the hospital focuses strictly on cancer treatment and palliative care - which incorporates symptom and supportive management as well as respite care - Hibbert also faces staff challenges.

 

STAFFING PROBLEM

 

"One of the issues we have, which is a common thing in the whole public sector, is staffing. I am short of registered nurses (RNs). Presently, we have about 14 RNs, plus myself and the deputy matron. We need a total of about eight RNs. It is not an area that many persons want to work. You will find that the nurses want to do accident and emergency, ICU [intensive care unit] and stuff like that. You would be surprised to know that a lot of nurses don't want to do this type of nursing," the matron disclosed.

Hibbert admitted that the mainly positive reviews about her staff at the Hope Institute is credited to a positive outlook. "We try. It's not easy to have this kind of care and as nursing managers, one of our mandates is that patients are here to be cared for. That's why we are employed. We are here because of them [patients], and that's what I preach," Hibbert said.