A number of individuals for the first time had their eyes tested when the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation [GPHC] collaborated with the George Subraj Family Foundation to host free eye clinics at strategic locations across the country.
This move is one that represents yet another effort by the two entities to collaborate to
offer free health care to those in need.
The Foundation which is based in the United States, was founded by Guyana-born Philanthropist, George Subraj, who passed away in November 2016.
Currently the key players behind the continued operation of the Foundation are Subraj’s wife, Gloria, and children Tony and Jasmine, along with his long time friends Jay Jainarine and Richard B. Mahase.
Together they have been helping to ensure that the Foundation realise its main goal to give back to Guyanese, particularly in the area of health care. This has manifested by the Foundation’s efforts to lend support to the GPHC to offer crucial eye care and kidney transplant surgeries.
The most recent visit by members of the Foundation saw these services being offered during the period May 1 through May 7.
As it relates to eye care, the clinics were held in Yakusari Bhuvaneshwar Mandir, Black Bush Polder, Berbice on Tuesday May 1, 2018 where 150 patients were seen; at the Linden Hospital Complex, Eye Department on Thursday, May 3, 2018 where 650 patients were seen and at Cane Grove, Mahaica on Sunday May 6, 2018 where250 patients were seen.
Among the patients who received eye care for the first time, many were found to have diabetes and hypertension. They were moreover counselled on how to seek further assistance.
Free spectacles were distributed to the residents and free eye screening was done in collaboration with the staff of the GPHC’s Department of Ophthalmology.
The GPHC team lending support to the outreach included ophthalmologists, nurses and optometrists who went to the regions. Ophthalmologist Dr. Rameeza McDonald coordinated the outreach at the Linden Hospital Complex.
Immense support was also forthcoming from Cornea Specialists, Dr. Pasternak of Washington D. C., United States and the Lions Eye Back who has been working closely with the Foundation to source corneal transplant tissues to facilitate transplant surgery at the GPHC.
On this occasion a total of nine Corneal Transplant tissues were procured for the GPHC. These were donated to GPHC which helped towards the successful transplant of nine patients.
Two of the GPHC Ophthalmologists who usually collaborate with the Subraj Foundation, Dr. Shailendra Sugrim and Dr. Celeste Haynes-Hinds, were the surgeons who completed these transplants.
To date 72 Corneal transplants have been successfully done at the GPHC through this collaboration. On Saturday last, the visiting team met with the transplant patients at the GPHC where most of them expressed gratitude to the Foundation members for giving them the opportunity to receive the crucial eye care service right here in Guyana. Patients have in the past travelled overseas to have these procedures performed.
Meanwhile, on Friday a small ceremony was held at GPHC where the Subraj Foundation donated two crucial pieces of equipment to the GPHC Eye Department. The equipment, according to officials of the GPHC, will facilitate continued Corneal Transplant Surgeries at that public institution.
The donated equipment includes a Corneal Topographer which is an instrument that scans the cornea and aids in diagnosis of corneal diseases. It also helps in the management of cornea patients after cornea transplant surgery and a sterilising machine for the Eye Theatre that will assist in sterilizing the Corneal Microsurgical Instruments to be used during the transplant surgeries and other eye surgeries.
Also accompanying the team were renowned Kidney Transplant Surgeons: Dr. Rahul Jindal and Dr. Stephen Guy. The team assisted in conducting a Kidney Transplant Surgery at the hospital on Thursday May 3 which was led by Dr. Kishore Persaud of the Nephrology Unit at GPHC.
The patients were examined post surgery by Dr. Guy who confirmed that they were well on the road to recovery.
Visiting Specialist, Dr. Guy, said he was pleased with the recuperation of both recipient and donor who underwent the kidney transplant surgery. An anaesthesiologist was also a member of the team – Dr. Asheesh Kumar – who volunteered his services in giving lectures and conducting a Continued Medical Education [CME] for the Anaesthesiology Team at GPHC.
The CME was sponsored by the Subraj Foundation and held at the Marriott Hotel on Saturday last.
Meanwhile, it was revealed that a follow up meeting was also held with officials of the Ministry of Public Health on Friday to continue the momentum to pass legislation for organ transplant in Guyana.
Tony Subraj, who is currently the Foundation’s President, said that he is extremely grateful for the GPHC’s continued all-round assistance and is really looking forward for legislation and passage of a Bill for an organ donor registry as it is critical to the team’s work in helping even more residents.
Also commenting on the recent visit, Mahase, another member of the team, said that the support from the GPHC was outstanding. He noted, too, that while there were no notable challenges, the distance to the outreach locations was at times testing.
He nevertheless asserted, “If we could have come all the way from New York to do this, what’s a few miles more.”
Mahase took pride in the fact that the team was resilient in getting its work done. “We did have a period of blackout at Linden but the brave team led by Dr. Rameeza McDonald literally worked with cellular phone flashlight until power was restored.”
Mahase was pleased to announce that all of the spectacles that were brought for distribution were exhausted and even more prescriptions will be filled shortly for other persons in need.
“The local public health collaboration was excellent. Dr. Sugrim’s level of professional courtesy is unprecedented.”
He added, “The amount of work done on this trip including Cornea transplant and donation, in such a short time, reflects the passion of our Foundation and shows just how far we can go with private-public partnerships. But ultimately trying to improve the lives of the residents is what drives us.”
As part of its continued support, Mahase said that several more outreaches are planned that will benefit even more Guyanese.
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