Two infant ventilators valued at more than J$2,000,000 were officially donated to the paediatric ward of the St Ann's Bay Regional Hospital on November 12 by the Issa Trust Foundation (ITF). The donation is a significant upgrade to the manual technique being used by the facility, called bag mask ventilation.
Ventilators are machines used to provide breathing support for ill or premature babies, who are often too weak to breathe properly on their own. Twelve boxes of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies were also presented to the facility.
Dr Coralie Antoine, paediatric consultant at the facility, thanked the ITF saying, "We frequently manage extremely premature and very ill infants with various respiratory conditions who require ventilatory support. In the past, we have had to rely on the availability of ventilators at Type A hospitals, necessitating the transport of unstable infants under less than ideal conditions. With these ventilators, we will be able to better manage our newborns on site. This donation will go a long way in improving our prenatal and infant morbidity and mortality rates and will reduce the need for transport of these ill infants to other facilities."
Eleven nurses and five doctors from the facility also benefited from hands-on training in the use of the special equipment. Training encompassed a myriad of topics such as care of incubated neonatal patients, revision of the components of the baby log ventilator and bag mask ventilation.
Facilitators Cheryl Dominick - registered respiratory therapist - neonatal paediatriacs - master of science in nursing (MSN); certified registered nurse practitioner (CRNP); neonatal nurse practitioner - Blue Cross; and volunteers from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, have been coming to the island for more than five years to assist in the foundation's mission.
Another team of volunteers is expected to return in January 2013 to continue the training, as it was interrupted by the passage of Hurricane Sandy. Additionally, they will bring a biomedical technician to service the donated machines.
Diane Pollard, chief executive officer of ITF, said, "Through our partnerships, our goal is to provide more children and their families with what they need the most, their health."
The ITF was established by Couples Resorts and has been involved in the enhancement of paediatric health care in north-east Jamaica since January 2005. Their partnership with the North East Regional Health Authority continues to yield positive results for patients, especially the paediatric clientele. The foundation is also supported by the Fraternal Order of Eagles, another donor organisation in the United States of America.
The foundation has demonstrated a keen interest in St Mary, targeting the hospitals, clinics and underserved areas in the parish. In July, they donated a 20-foot container of supplies valued at US$150,000 to the St Mary Health Services. They have also initiated strategic outreaches in Portland and St Ann.