At Trinity School of Medicine we aim to be an engaged, positive member of the Vincentian community. Many of our faculty and students are guests in the country and we always strive to remain not just accepted, but welcomed. This has manifested in many ways, from our culture of belonging to creating local jobs and offering scholarships for Vincentian students, all the way up to major healthcare outreach.
Last week, Steven Wilson, our president, handed over a $101,615.00 EC check to Mrs. Susan Rickman, CEO of the World Pediatric Project at a small ceremony on the grounds of the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital in Kingstown.
The donation was a joint contribution between the SVG Health and Education foundation, faculty, students, and affiliates of Trinity as a show of support and appreciation for World Pediatric Project, the work it does, and the wonderful relationship it shares with Trinity
Representatives present included Mrs. Sally Wilson; Dr. Douglas Skelton, Chancellor; Dr. Linda Adkison, incumbent Dean; Dr. Andrea Reymann, associate dean of academic affairs and evaluation; Dr. Conrad Nedd, assistant professor of clinical medicine and clinical preceptor; Dr. Frances Jack, assistant dean of students; and Mrs. Kaushayla Nedd, head of the deanery. Representing the WPP was Dr. Jeffery Lukish, pediatric general surgeon and head of the first WPP mission for 2016 and Simon Carey, WPP regional representative.
As some background, The World Pediatric Project has been in the Caribbean region since 2001. The non-profit organization conducts ten medical missions in St. Vincent and the Grenadines every year. These include: general surgery and neo-natal clinics; ophthalmology and plastic surgery; physical therapy; cardiology; orthopedic clinics; neurosurgery; and urology. With St. Vincent and the Grenadines being the hub for the World Pediatric Project, people from throughout the Eastern Caribbean converge on the island to seek the expert medical care.
Thus far, the majority of the funding has come through the United States. Susan Rickman, CEO of the WPP spoke on upcoming expansion: “We really want St. Vincent and the rest of the region to embrace it and take ownership of it,” This, she explained, would require a groundswell of funding from the EC itself, which is what makes Trinity, as an organization that bridges international boundaries while remaining firmly rooted in the SVG community, so important.
As frequent blog readers know, Trinity has been directly involved for quite some time, as our students regularly volunteer with the missions. Trinity's fundraising commitment is another step in an ever-deepening relationship. “These are significant funds for us,” Susan Rickman expounded, “we will be able to put them immediately to use. We’ve got two children right now from this week of our pediatric general surgery with the team from John Hopkins that need to come to the United States. This right here makes it a reality. We can move on quickly because of funds like this. And it’s just touching that the students and the school felt that it was important for them to do this.”
She described the relationship between the WPP and Trinity as “long term.” She added, “From Trinity’s inception, we were able to meet and sync our vision, having two organizations with a single vision of growth. It was just natural.” Trinity’s president lauded the relationship and spoke of some of the benefits it has brought the students from their involvement with WPP. “The students are able to observe various operations here in the surgery theatre. They (the students) are able to ask questions and work with the doctors in unique circumstances providing unparalleled educational opportunity. This is very beneficial for them.” Steve Wilson added, "Our students observe the physicians and help as appropriate." He continued, “they get to help prepare patients in some cases, especially out in the field across a wide variety of cases. It’s a great learning experience for our students and a benefit from the relationship and support over the years.”
While the years of collaboration would seem to remove any question as to why the school donated, President Wilson noted: “There is a tremendous need on St. Vincent and we see this as we help. We certainly want to fill the gaps that are in the healthcare system here, especially in the outlying countryside. The hospital has limited capacity to do this. While we're an international community, we consider ourselves a part of St. Vincent and are, as adopted Vincentians, obligated to join in local efforts however we can.”
From all reports, donations like these will become increasingly welcome. As WPP’s CEO put it: “In the future, we expect to increase the numbers of children and to have a representative on every single Eastern Caribbean island. Our vision is that by 2017, we have 100% coverage of pediatric cardiology for every child in the Eastern Caribbean; by 2020 we want to have 100% coverage of those children that are deemed necessary to have surgical interventions to be placed in one of our partner hospitals so that they can very quickly get their heart surgeries done.” These are big goals for the WPP and their realization deeply depends on increased funding.
Trinity’s president acknowledged that his institution’s aim is to continue to build the relationship. “We want to support it both financially and with the resources of the students and the faculty,” he said, “and as they’re expanding throughout the Caribbean, any way we could be of assistance in that, we would do the best we can to support them.” He enthusiastically pointed out that the relationship was good for the school, for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and for all affiliated because it is such a worthy cause. He expressed his wish that, having been inculcated into a culture of giving back, the students as physicians will even consider coming back to donate their services to St. Vincent and the WPP in the future.
With plans being scaled upwards for increased WPP coverage of children in need throughout the entire Eastern Caribbean region, Trinity School of Medicine has set the pace for the promotion of accessible healthcare and continued to live up to its stated culture of passion for medicine and service to others.