April 23, 2010
US Medical team in SVG for study on Diabetes

Sister Patricia Ann Douglas’ legacy lives on through a team of medical practitioners from the United States.

The team journeyed to St.Vincent and the Grenadines last week to conduct a medical mission in honour of the late Douglas, the former Principal of the St. Joseph’s Convent Marriaqua who died tragically in 2005, while in Barbados.{{more}}

The team, headed by Ann-Marie Lee-Wilkins, a native of St.Vincent and the Grenadines, who has established herself as a nurse in the United States, spent the week promoting diabetic foot assessment, with the goal of preventing amputations among diabetics in this country.

The team arrived in St.Vincent and the Grenadines on Thursday, April 15, 2010, and conducted its first clinic in Bequia the following day. While here, the group also saw patients at Georgetown, Mesopotamia, Kingstown, and Layou.They are due to leave the state tomorrow.

When SEARCHLIGHT visited the Levi Latham Health Centre at Mesopotamia on Tuesday where the team was seeing patients, Lee-Wilkins mentioned that the medical mission is one of the initiatives being undertaken by the Sister Patricia-Ann Douglas Foundation, which she established in 2005 to continue the work of her best friend and former high school principal.

The foundation initially was established to give scholarships to empower underprivileged youths in St.Vincent and the Grenadines and Maryland, United States. However, it took on a second dimension in 2009 when Lee-Wilkins and her colleagues made their first missionary trip here and brought it under the auspices of the Patricia Ann Douglas Foundation.

Lee-Wilkins recognized that diabetes had become a big problem here upon a visit to the state in 2006.

Upon her return to the United States, she mobilized her colleagues to make a contribution in St.Vincent and the Grenadines by providing voluntary services.

The team is comprised of Physiatrist Dr. Lauren Shapiro; Endocrinologist Dr. Anita Ramsetty (a native of St.Vincent); Lee-Wilkins, Family Nurse Practioner Darlene Fuchs-Lyons, and Nurse Pamela Spring.

Lee-Wilkins told SEARCHLIGHT the group hopes to educate diabetic patients on how to do daily foot assessments, as well as nurses, health aides and nursing assistants.

“So they in return, when the patient comes to the clinic, can pass on the knowledge gained,” said Lee-Wilkins.

While here, the group also implemented a protocol study at five clinics: Bequia, Georgetown, Kingstown, Mesopotamia and Layou.

Local nurses at each clinic were given an outline and protocol to follow, from which they will send a quarterly report to the United States team.

The team hopes to have 50 patients participating in the programme.

The study, which will run over a five-year period, entails patients following the doctors’ and nurses’ guidelines, such as taking their medication and maintaining their sugar levels in a target range; doing daily exercises; visiting the clinics monthly; seeing their physicians on a quarterly basis; and having an annual physical exam, which includes an eye exam.

At the end of the study, the team hopes to publish an article on their findings.

Lee-Wilkins, a Head Nurse at Johns Hopkins’ Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, stated during the interview: “St.Vincent and the Grenadines is my first home, and I always have a passion for my people, and I always wanted to do something to help the government.

“I just want to say that I have done my nursing here on the island and from what I have seen when I left and the progress we have made from where we have come from with diabetes, the Government has made tremendous gain in terms of improving the life of diabetics on the island.” (HN)