November 26, 2013
US $1m from CIBC First Caribbean for nurses’ training

Tue Nov 17, 2013

Nursing care is critical for the provision of treatment to the sick, particularly children affected by life-threatening diseases such as cancer.{{more}} CIBC First Caribbean has therefore announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with SickKids Foundation, a charity registered in the Caribbean, to fund training for Caribbean nurses as part of the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative through the Centre for Global Child Health at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids).

With this donation, CIBC FirstCaribbean has been named the Nursing Training Partner for the project, and will provide $1,000,000 US (1 million) over the next seven years for the training of medical professionals who specialize in the care of paediatric patients affected by cancer or blood disorders such as sickle-cell disease.

The MOU was signed this morning at the regional Headquarters of CIBC FCIB when the a delegation from the Hospital for Sick children, accompanied by lecturer in Clinical Haematology in the faculty of Medical Sciences at the UWI Dr Cheryl Alexis, visited and met with CEO Rik Parkhill and managing director of Customer Relationship Management and Strategy Trevor Torzsas, to discuss this aspect of the introduction of the SickKids Initiative in the Caribbean.

The donation is to be CIBC FirstCaribbean’s contribution to the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative to enhance capacity for care in paediatric cancer and blood disorders, underway in the Caribbean. SickKids is working with six countries across the English-speaking Caribbean – The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad & Tobago – to improve outcomes for children affected by cancer and blood disorders. Working with these Caribbean partners, SickKids has developed a five-year plan for addressing the region’s gaps in research, care, and education in order to advance the diagnosis and management of paediatric cancer and blood disorders across the Caribbean.

In making the announcement, chief executive officer of CIBC FirstCaribbean Rik Parkhill noted: “Cancer is a disease that has affected just about everyone at our bank. Childhood cancer is particularly heartbreaking. Unfortunately, some of our employees have had to help their own children battle diseases like cancer and sickle-cell anemia. The fight against cancer for us is therefore personal, as witnessed through the recent success of our second annual Walk for the Cure, in which our employees raised over USD $100,000 regionally to be donated to organizations established in the Caribbean to support the care of those affected by cancer. This is taking it one step further, and contributing at the institutional level to this very worthy project, which aims to improve the chances of our most vulnerable citizens who are fighting cancer.”

Mr Parkhill added: “In many cases it is critical to respond to a cancer diagnosis with speed, and too often we hear of young people who have to travel to North America and elsewhere for care. Often the funding to do so is not available, so we feel it is important for us to contribute to providing our region with wider access to specialized consultations that can eventually save the lives of Caribbean children. This is where the training of Caribbean professionals is so critical. In this way we will not only develop the expertise right here in the region, we will help to improve the chances of many more young West Indians.”

The SickKids-Caribbean Initiative is made up of a number of components and will incorporate the following:

o Patient Management Tracking Tool – Establishing and maintaining a paediatric oncology patient database is crucial to tracking patient progress and outcomes. This tool will contain demographic, disease, treatment and outcome related data on all children with cancer diagnosed at partner hospitals. This information will provide clinicians with high-quality data and key outcome measures, which will help them to design and evaluate future interventions that will ultimately lead to improvements in care.

o Case Consultations – Establishing a streamlined approach to facilitate the review of complex patient cases in haematology/oncology by a cadre of SickKids specialists. Select cases are presented at monthly review rounds.

o Laboratory Enhancements – Establishing laboratories with the ability to immunophenotype leukemia cells will enable improvements in diagnosis and early intervention. The initiative will also update diagnostic services for cancer cases to ensure they are consistent with international standards and best practices.

o Sickle Cell Disease Programs – Promotion of newborn screening and other programmes for sickle cell disease in partnership with the Caribbean countries will ensure more children affected by this disease receive treatment.

o Research – Clinician scientists and researchers will be able to study the answers to specific questions that are aimed at improving outcomes from paediatric cancer and blood disorders in the Caribbean. This work will evolve over the duration of the project as data is accumulated.

The SickKids-Caribbean Initiative is led by Dr Victor Blanchette, former chief of Haematology/Oncology, McCaig Family Medical director and a native of Barbados, and Dr Upton Allen, Division head of Infectious Disease, who is a native of Jamaica. Both are physicians at SickKids.

“We applaud CIBC FirstCaribbean for their recognition of nursing, which is an integral part in paediatric haematology/oncology patient management. With this generous donation, we can work together with nursing leaders in the Caribbean and at SickKids towards developing and implementing a successful and sustainable nurse training strategy,” said Dr Victor Blanchette.

The SickKids-Caribbean Initiative is currently in its first year of implementation.