Valerie Dixon, Contributor
A GROUP of 26 students and medical faculty from the Miami Dade College Medical Group, led by Dr Cindy Corke, recently provided health care to residents of several communities in Manchester and St Elizabeth. The group, comprising physician-assistant trainees, dental hygienists, and vision-care technicians, were guests of the Lions Club of Mandeville.
This year, the team's second year in Jamaica, the Lions Club targeted rural communities, in particular schoolchildren, and exposed them to the services being offered. Patients came from several communities in Manchester, including Victoria Town, Harry Watch, Woodlands, Patrick Town, Chantilly, Kendal, Maidstone (Nazareth), Georges Valley, Dunrobin, and Bellefield.
They set up two clinics in St Elizabeth - at Bull Savannah and Pedro Plain - and patients came from all the outlying districts. The team spent two working days in Mandeville and one working day in St Elizabeth.
While many people can afford medical care in Jamaica, some, including many young children and the elderly in rural communities, do not get medical attention as often as they should.
A typical visit to the dentist to clean one's teeth costs approximately $9,000. A visit to a doctor, who is not a specialist, averages $3,000. A visit to eye specialists can cost $6,000 (glasses included) at the minimum, and well over $30,000 at the high end - especially for those over 40 who need bifocal lenses and special treatment.
Over the three-day period, between Manchester and St Elizabeth, the medical group saw well over 1,600 patients.
When interviewed, immediate past president, Fay Heaven, choked up when disclosing that some of the children were visiting the dentist for the first time in their lives and many little ones had their eyes tested and given glasses free of cost. She expressed gratitude to Dr Corke and her team for being on a mission to serve.
The initial connection with the Miami Dade College Medical Group was made through Clive Corke, who founded the Lions Club of Mandeville 38 years ago, and who became the chartered president of the Lions Club. As a patriotic Jamaican, he sought to find a way to give a gift to central Jamaica and came up with the idea of bringing a group of medical personnel, led by his daughter, to give medical service and attention.
Paul Fraser, a stalwart member of the Lions Club of Mandeville, seized the opportunity to hone Mr Corke's gift into a worthy project, which was accepted by the club. The Lions Club undertook the task of marketing the project and was instrumental in getting persons to take advantage of the services offered by the medical team.
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