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A labour of love

Jamaica Observer 2019-06-10 10:46:26

Twenty hernia patients at St Ann's Bay Regional Hospital have benefited from well-needed surgeries, freeing them of constant pain, and enabling them to return to work and other activities.

The surgeries were all performed on Labour Day, May 23, as part of an effort by the hospital to reduce waiting time for operations.

Regional director of the North East Regional Health Authority Fabia Lamm, told JIS News that the surgeons, doctors, and nurses all volunteered their services on the day and “came together and to perform the surgeries in order to bring down the waiting list for hernia repairs”.

She explained that the activity was an initiative of the surgical team led by Acting Senior Medical Officer Dr Tanya Hamilton-Johnson, which wanted to do something meaningful for Labour Day.

“I am pleased to see that the entire team came out on the day. I went into the (operating) theatre and even the director of nursing services was in her gears and participating in the work that was being done,” Lamm said.

“It's a very unique initiative and it's really good for them to come up with this solution to help to reduce surgery waiting times for patients. Usually, when you talk about the waiting list for surgeries, the hernia patients are the ones with the longer wait times,” she noted.

Dr Hamilton-Johnson, for her part, told JIS News that the decision to perform the surgeries came out of a meeting of the consultants.

“We determined that in this, the 90th year of the existence of the hospital, we should focus on the community for Labour Day, and so we agreed on doing hernia repair surgeries as a community outreach. We thought that it would bring some relief to persons and we would also benefit,” she explained.

According to Dr Hamilton-Johnson, many of the hernia patients are people who are physically fit and so their quality of life would have been compromised by something that could be easily fixed.

She noted that most hernias are caused by heavy lifting.

“For those who may have had to stop working, going back to work would really be a lifeline for them so the benefit to the patient is significant,” she said.

An upbeat Dwight Pearce, who was undergoing surgery for a second time, was grateful to have been included in the cases dealt with on Labour Day.

“I am happy for the opportunity and looking forward to be up and about and back to what I have to do quickly,” he said.

“The last time I did surgery, I came out in a wheelchair. It's not the same this time. Persons are walking out of the theatre and that is encouraging,” he said.

The patients 19 males and one female were selected after a screening process.

Dr Hamilton-Johnson explained that all the patients had inguinal (groin) hernias, which mostly occur in males.

Stating that she was pleased with the outcome and was of the view that it was worth the effort, Dr Hamilton-Johnson described the day's work as “truly a labour of love”. “The activity really brought us together as a family. The camaraderie was great among the staff and also the patients and we are grateful that we could have impacted these 20 families in this manner,” she said.