Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
Air Jamaica's new owners, Caribbean Airlines, recently donated US$5,000 (J$450,000) to Couples Resorts' non-profit organisation, Issa Trust Foundation, to go towards the launch of a paediatric medical rotation programme in northeastern Jamaica.
The programme is being conducted in partnership with the North East Regional Health Authority and the University of Iowa Children's Hospital and Global Healing in the United States.
Set to start in July, the project will involve hospitals and clinics in Port Maria and Annotto Bay in St Mary, and Port Antonio in Portland.
Captain Ian Brunton, chief executive officer of Caribbean Airlines, in handing over the cheque to Couples CEO Glen Lawrence at the Norman Manley International Airport, said he wanted to ensure that the excellent community service which formed a large part of the social responsibility of Air Jamaica was maintained.
"We see this partnership with the Issa Trust as a stepping stone in that direction," Brunton said.
The donation was the first for Caribbean Airlines to any organisation in Jamaica since it assumed responsibility of Air Jamaica at the end of April.
It also marked the 15th straight year that the Issa Trust was contributing to the social well-being of residents in and around communities where Couples hotels are situated.
The paediatric medical rotation will include neonatology training for staff, biomedical engineer training, paediatric specialities and paediatric medical clinic rotation. The rotation period is 30 days and the project will last for five years.
Couples said the goal is to implement a self-sustained paediatric programme in Jamaica within five years by providing local staff with clinical training in general paediatric medicine.
The Issa Trust Foundation will evaluate the technology needs of the respective parishes and employ volunteer American biomedical engineers to provide training in operation, maintenance and repair of various types of medical equipment.
To coincide with the start of the programme in July, the foundation will distribute a 40-foot container of medical equipment to the hospitals.