Issa Trust, Couples medical mission for St Mary, Westmoreland

Published: Wednesday | September 16, 2009

Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer

Miss Jamaica (World) 2009 Kerrie Baylis (centre) poses with some of the medical volunteers on Monday at the Port Maria Hospital in St Mary. - Photo by Carl Gilchrist

The fifth annual Issa Trust Foundation and Couples Resorts' medical mission began Monday, at the Port Maria Health Centre in St Mary, with 38 medical volunteers who flew in from the United States to once again offer their services to the benefit of Jamaica's children.

The mission, which will run until September 25, will see the group also working at the Annotto Bay, Retreat and Islington health centres in St Mary and the Windsor Girls' Home in St Ann up until Friday, September 18.

The following weeks, the volunteers, drawn mainly from the University of Iowa Children's Hospital and Blank Children's Hospital, along with others from Philadelphia, New Jersey and Maryland, will visit Westmoreland to offer their services at Grange Hill, Darliston, Lambs River and Williamsfield health centres.

Team members

The team includes paediatricians, surgeons, biomedical engineers, lab technicians, pharmacists, dietitians-nutritionists, paediatric nephrologists, paediatric haematologists/oncologists, nurse practitioners and paediatric nurses.

Since the inception of the medical mission in 2005, more than 3,500 children have received free medical care. This year, the figure will increase significantly as some 200 boxes of medical supplies, valued at US$100,000, were brought in by the group.

During a press conference Monday at the Port Maria Hospital, Grand Worthy President Mike Lagervall, of the Fraternal Order of Eagles in the United States, once again made a monetary contribution to the Issa Trust Foundation. Lagervall handed over a cheque of US$30,000 to Diane Pollard, vice-president of the Issa Trust Foundation, whose effort to make the mission a reality through the years was highlighted by Glen Lawrence, CEO of Couples Resorts.

The medical mission is a continuation of community involvement by Couples Resorts through its four properties: Tower Isle, Sans Souci, Swept Away and Negril. Over the years, the properties have combined to raise more than J$12 million through fund-raising events for charitable organisations.

Other donations

Couples Resorts have also donated, over the past five years, services and accommodation valued at more than US$300,000 towards charity.

"Couples Resorts knows it is its corporate responsibility to help make a difference in the lives of the families and children of Jamaica," Lawrence told the gathering.

Meanwhile, ambassador of Jamaica to the United States, Anthony Johnson, in commending Lagervall for the donation, said the Fraternal Order of the Eagles was showing that it was more blessed to give than to receive.

"Here's to friendship between the United States and Jamaica," Johnson said in his brief comment.

Robert Montague, minister with responsibility for local government who was at the conference, in commending Couples Resorts for its continued assistance to the community, said Couples, which he described as a proud St Mary product that has grown into an international brand, has never forgotten its roots.

Couples Resorts established Issa Trust Foundation in 2005 as a non-profit organisation with a mission to provide a system or prevention, health promotion and education, community-health improvement and other services to promote well-being and development for the people of Jamaica.

The trust serves children from birth to 18 years old.