Even as Guyana, along with the rest of the world, celebrates Breast Cancer Awareness Month, keen efforts are being made to ensure that nurses within the local health sector have the wherewithal to offer the related services.
The Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) has forged collaborations with the Organisation for Social and Health Advancement for Guyana (OSHAG), a Non-Governmental Organisation based in New York and also registered here.
Nurses drawn from a number of health facilities, regionally, were yesterday exposed to the expert knowledge of medical members of OSHAG in the GPHC’s Resource Centre. As the primary presenter Dr. Trevor Layne, a Haematologist/ Oncologist, delivered lectures on the administration of cancer treatment and generally how to deal with Chemo-therapy. Sessions continue throughout this week.
Dr. Layne, who was born in Grenada, is a Board Certified Medical Oncologist who has for 15 years been involved in the teaching of doctors to become Oncologists. He himself has been practising for at least two decades but was desirous to be a part of the efforts to support Guyana.
“My aim here would be to get some kind of organisation together with the physicians in Guyana in order to give some standard of care in terms of treating cancer patients. We hope to try to get close to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), the standard used in the United States as a guideline to treating patients with cancer including and depending on the patient’s stage of cancer,” Dr. Layne said.
He shared his conviction that it is imperative that even after the OSHAG team leaves there should be some degree of continuity.
Also facilitating the sessions yesterday were nurses from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York, New York. Some of them have been practising for more than 20 years.
According to President of OSHAG, Carol Bagot, Dr. Layne will also be conducting a Continuous Medical Education (CME) forum with practicing doctors on Thursday. It is hoped that the local nurses will also avail themselves for this exposure.
“It is a wealth of information and we are hoping that after today all of the nurses will be prepared to work in the Chemo-therapy Room (based on the information) they receive from Dr. Layne and the team,” said Bagot.
And Dr. Layne disclosed that it is his belief that any local doctor with an interest in Oncology or even a few nurses should be sent to the United States every year in order to do CMEs in order to better become acquainted with the NCCN guidelines. “There should be some kind of (quality) continuity of care for regular folks because we are quite aware that the people who have money probably can pay; they can go to the United States but I think that all patients should be given the opportunity to be given the same kind of treatment,” Dr. Layne said.
This is particularly imperative, he noted, since cancer is swiftly becoming one of the leading killers.
Currently the number one killer is cardiovascular disease, Dr. Layne informed. “I’m sure that a lot of people can relate since they have either had a family member or someone very close who has died from cancer or has cancer,” Dr. Layne said.
He noted that while there has been an evident spike in the disease there have been lots of advances in its treatment as he pointed out that “treatment of cancers are no longer just toxic drugs that will cause your hair to drop and you can’t sit or stand for days…we have much more effective and much more pleasant drugs to treat patients with now,” said Dr. Layne.
Bagot, speaking of the collaboration with OSHAG and the GPHC, said out that it was all brought to fruition through intense work that entailed the efforts of OSHAG’s Vice President, Ms Kareen Lambert.
“She was instrumental with myself and Dr. Layne and the nurses from Sloan Kettering to put this whole programme together which we want to be continuous,” Bagot informed.
The visiting team comprises close to one dozen individuals supporting the effort to train the local nurses. Among the other team members are: Dr. Theophilus Lewis, Ms. Sybil Chester, Nurse Rose Mason, Nurse Stacey Pharrel and Nurse Latesha Smith.
According to Bagot while the GPHC already has in place an Oncology Room, “what we are doing is try to strengthen what they have and make it more efficient.”
She said too that Chief Executive Officer of the GPHC, Michael Khan, was very supportive. He ensured that the collaboration was realised as was (GPHC’s) Public Relations Officer, Ms. Mitzy Campbell.
OSHAG was formed in 2000 by Bagot, a Berbician who migrated 25 years ago. She currently holds a Masters Degree in Human Service Administration.
OSHAG members have been coming to Guyana ever since its establishment to offer health care support. In 2005 the group partnered with the Caribbean Medical Mission and the New Amsterdam Public Hospital and currently doctors affiliated with the Caribbean Medical Mission are in New Amsterdam facilitating clinics and surgical procedures.
Yesterday their medical services were offered at Manchester and Lancaster while today they are scheduled to be at Belladrum, Wednesday at Mahaica while they will venture to Buxton on Thursday and Friday at Enmore. “So we are doing a lot with regard to touching base with the various communities regarding health issues,” Bagot told this publication.
Lambert, OSHAG’s Vice President, also a Guyanese by birth residing in the United States, told this publication yesterday too that the move to collaborate with the GPHC was premised on the fact that “we have been finding more and more cases of cancer thus the need for this particular venture.
“Every year we come we are finding people who are undiagnosed thinking it is an abscess… but some may have breast cancer, cervical cancer; there are a lot of cancers,” said Lambert. It is for this reason, she added that the visiting team has been facilitating surgeries to deal with cancers as she emphasised that “this is a great, great need for this country and for the Caribbean.”
According to GPHC’s Nursing Services Director, Sister Audrey Cory, the support from OSHAG could not have come at a more opportune since keen focus is being directed to the treatment of cancer, particularly breast cancer which has been increasingly affecting younger women.
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