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Guardian Group Foundation donates $10m medical equipment to UHWI

Published:Monday | May 13, 2019 | 12:10 AM

The University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) is now home to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenator machine (ECMO), the only one of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean, donated by the Guardian Group Foundation, from funds raised from the 2018 staging of the ‘Keep it Alive’ 5K Night Runs.

Speaking at the handing over of the equipment, valued at $10 million, which took place at the Intensive Care Unit of the UHWI on Tuesday, May 7, Dr Carl Bruce, medical chief of staff at the UHWI, expressed appreciation to the Guardian Group Foundation for the donation. He noted that the equipment would increase the hospital’s ability to provide world-class care to patients, thereby reducing the need for overseas travel.

“This machine is the first of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean and it will go a far way in improving the level of healthcare we are able to provide to our patients. We recently had a patient who had to travel by air ambulance to Florida for treatment at a cost of US$3 million, which many of our patients cannot afford. So, this piece of equipment will give many patients the opportunity for survival,” Dr Bruce said.

Eric Hosin, president, Guardian Life Limited, said his organisation was very pleased that proceeds from the annual 5K continue to facilitate the purchase of medical equipment for the island’s hospitals and to help in saving lives.

“Each year, we are pleased to see growth in the number of persons who register for the races, resulting in an increase in funds which are generated to purchase medical equipment, not only for the University Hospital of the West Indies, but also Cornwall, St Ann’s Bay and Mandeville Regional hospitals,” Hosin said

In addition to the ECMO, which provides prolonged cardiac and respiratory support to persons whose heart and lungs are not functioning at the required levels, the UHWI also received a minimal access neuroendoscopy system , which allows doctors to perform minimally invasive procedures on neurosurgery patients.

This machine will decrease the level of pain associated with these procedures and also reduce recovery time.

“This machine allows us to make a small incision and use a camera to aid in the surgery process as opposed to making larger incisions. This means less pain for the patient. It also enables patients to return to normal life a lot sooner. By contrast, such procedures would require patients to remain in hospital up to five days after surgery. However, by using this new machine, the patient could return home the same day or the day after surgery at the longest,” Dr Renee Cruikshank, neurosurgery resident at UHWI, explained.

In addition to donating the new medical equipment, the Guardian Group Foundation has provide an additional $1 million to facilitate training for the hospital staff in the use of the machines.

“The University Hospital has a very important role to play in the healthcare system in Jamaica. It’s not only to provide the most advanced care to save patients’ lives, but it should also provide training for the next generation of medical specialists,” Dr Bruce said.