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Ministry of Health Expresses Gratitude to Canadian Team Assisting with Dialysis Training

Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis, July 31, 2023 (Press Secretary, PMO)- The Ministry of Health warmly welcomed a distinguished team from Canada to the Joseph N. France General Hospital today, Monday 31st July 2023.

The Team is led by Mr Charles Estridge, a Biomedical Technologist and a proud national residing in Canada, who played a pivotal role in procuring fifteen (15) much-needed dialysis machines for the country back in May of this year.

The esteemed Canadian team consists of two registered nurses (RNs), Yee Young Sang and Carmela Nelson, along with Biomedical Technologist Jason Maher. Their presence and expertise are crucial in enhancing the capabilities of healthcare professionals and ensuring optimal care for patients in need of dialysis treatment. They will provide vital training for the staff of the Haemodialysis Unit at the Joseph N. France (JNF) General Hospital.

During a brief yet heartfelt welcoming ceremony, Prime Minister and Minister of Health, Hon. Dr Terrance Drew, expressed profound gratitude on behalf of the Government and the people of Saint Kitts and Nevis to Mr Charles Estridge and his team. Their selfless dedication and invaluable service to the Federation are deeply appreciated, as they exemplify the spirit of international cooperation and goodwill.

“We are seeking to implement policies to extend help to our people. We are taking care of our side of the responsibility to make sure we offer good quality healthcare. We also recognize that the dialysis unit would have had some challenges in terms of equipment, especially the bloodline machines, so I want to thank Mr Estridge for recognizing the need and reaching out. Even though he is living in Canada his heart is still in Saint Kitts and Nevis. What you have offered here will save many lives and I cannot thank you enough”, said Prime Minister Drew.

RN Carmela Nelson demonstrating the functions of the new dialysis machines to the nurses at the Haemodialysis Unit at the Joseph N. France (JNF) General Hospital

Dialysis is a life-saving treatment for individuals whose kidneys have ceased to function adequately. In cases of kidney failure, the natural filtration process becomes compromised, and haemodialysis becomes essential to maintain the delicate balance of the body’s internal environment. Through haemodialysis, the blood is gently removed from the body and passed through a dialyzer, an artificial kidney-like device, which efficiently purifies the blood before returning it to the patient’s circulation.

The acquisition of these dialysis machines is a significant milestone and represents the realization of a promise made by the Prime Minister and Minister of Health, the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew, to improve healthcare services and provide accessible treatment options to those in need.

(In the Front) Mr Charles Estridge, Biomedical Technologist and Head of the volunteer medical team from Canada (In the Back L-R) RN Yee Young Sang, RN Carmela Nelson, and Biomedical Technologist, Jason Maher

Mr Estridge expressed his willingness to give back to his country of birth and explained why he chose to assist in the acquisition and donation of dialysis machines.

“I feel very honoured for the opportunity to give back to my country Saint Kitts and Nevis. I have worked in this field for over 20 years and to be frank, a young cousin of mine died of renal failure many years ago and later on, another friend of mine died from kidney disease and so I thought it was only fitting for me to do something like this and I have been trying to do this for a number of years. It is a privilege for me to be able to do this and I thank you for allowing me to be able to. The team that I have brought down are seasoned dialysis professionals. I thank them for taking the opportunity to come down with me to train and install the machines”, he stated.

The Ministry of Health recognizes the importance of specialized training for medical personnel, and the arrival of the Canadian team marks a crucial step forward in elevating the standard of care for patients requiring haemodialysis. The knowledge transfer and practical expertise shared by Mr. Charles Estridge, Yee Young Sang, Carmela Nelson, and Jason Maher will undoubtedly have a lasting positive impact on the healthcare landscape in Saint Kitts and Nevis.

L_R) Assistant Nurse Manager of the Haemodialysis Unit at the Joseph N. France (JNF) General Hospital, Sister Wendy Smithen; Prime Minister and Minister of Health, Hon. Dr Terrance Drew; Director of Health Institutions, Dr Jenson Morton; Principal Nursing Officer, Dr Rondalyn Dennis-Bradshaw; Director of Operations at JNF General Hospital, Ms Lindsey Maynard; Press Secretary to the Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Mrs Adelcia Connor-Ferlance; RN Yee Young Sang; RN Carmela Nelson; and Biomedical Technologist, Mr Charles Estridge.

During his remarks, Prime Minister Drew added that the JNF Hospital is in the process of setting up for renal transplants.

“There are a number of young people who are on dialysis with end-stage renal disease and while dialysis is a modality to help with that condition, the transplant has been shown to be superior in terms of quality of life and how long a person can live with renal disease. So, that will be a new programme to come on stream”, he stated.

As the Ministry of Health moves forward, guided by the commitment of dedicated medical professionals and the support of international partners like Mr. Charles Estridge and his team, the Government envisions a future where healthcare services continue to thrive, and the well-being of the citizens of Saint Kitts and Nevis remains at the forefront of all efforts.

The Ministry of Health extends its heartfelt appreciation to the Canadian team and looks forward to continued collaboration in advancing the medical capabilities of the nation.