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Dr Cecil Cyrus Museum to be transformed into a Healthcare Centre

Dr Cecil Cyrus Museum to be transformed into a Healthcare Centre
From left: Drs John Dagianis, Cathleen McCabe and Eric Purdy pose with Kathryn Lady Cyrus, wife of Sir Dr Cecil Cyrus under a banner bearing the name of the healthcare facility that will honour the surgeon’s legacy.

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A group of doctors from the United States intend to build on the legacy of Surgeon, Sir Dr Cecil Cyrus as they endeavour to turn what was once his clinic and the Dr Cecil Cyrus Museum, into a health centre.

The Dr Cecil Cyrus Museum, the country’s only medical and non-medical specimen museum, was established in 2002 and featured hundreds of pathological specimens and medical photographs with baffling medical conditions captured throughout the Surgeon’s medical career.

The museum closed some years later but in 2020, Dr Cathleen McCabe, an eye Surgeon who frequents St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) on eye-related missions, bought the building in the hopes of transforming it into a medical facility that will be known as the “Dr Cecil Cyrus Healthcare Centre”.

“I’m very excited to have this opportunity now to dedicate the building to Dr Cecil Cyrus and his lifetime really of dedication to the health and well being of the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines,” McCabe said during a reception held in Cyrus’ honour on June 3.

“It’s been something we’ve been very inspired by. It’s been a long time coming as far as a dream to have better and more continuous access to teaching, to excellence in technology and techniques for eye care — in St Vincent to begin with and maybe, we’ll be able to expand to other medical services in the future as well. Being able to build on his legacy is a really amazing day for us and we’re very excited to do that,” she said.

McCabe told media representatives that the building was purchased in January, 2020 right before the COVID-19 pandemic and as a result, work on the building has been delayed.

Renovations to be carried out will span work on the roof, electrical wiring and some of the structures. Work will also be done to improve the floor plan of the building, after which the Dr Cecil Cyrus Healthcare Centre will be equipped with the equipment necessary for an official opening.

“I don’t really, unfortunately, have a perfect timeline for that because supplies are sometimes difficult to get a hold of and things are a little less reliable now, but we’re hoping, over the next year to make significant improvements and if all goes well, perhaps we can do our first cases there when we’re here next year,” the eye Surgeon said.

Ophthalmologist, Dr Eric Purdy became familiar with Dr Cyrus in 2000, while on a volunteer mission to SVG and he lauded the retired physician for the contribution he has made to the medical field locally over the years.

Purdy said the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital does a good job in providing primary, surgical and emergency care, as well as obstetrics to the public.

But he noted that when the focus shifts to specialised areas such as Neurology, Plastic Surgery and Ophthalmology, it becomes extremely difficult for any community hospital to support all the services related to these areas of medicine.

The eye doctor said an outpatient facility like the one that will be established in New Montrose at the Cyrus’ former clinic and museum will help to take the strain off the local hospitals, as it relates to certain specialty areas.

“…The Ophthalmologists here are eager to work throughout the year but sometimes they run out of some of the very specialised supplies needed for cataract surgery and other eye surgeries. Just doing one surgery on one person’s cataract requires about 40 different items and some of those are expensive, disposable items that are only used once during that surgery and can never be used again,” he said, adding that the doctors from his mission also rely on donations to carry out the work they do in various countries.

When it comes to whether the Dr Cecil Cyrus Healthcare Centre will cater to Vincentians only or persons throughout the region, Purdy’s philosophy is that “whoever is in need will be welcome”.

But he said this will also depend on medical licensing and what is allowed by the Ministry of Health, among other things.

Purdy also said it is yet to be determined whether the services offered at the facility will come at a cost and exactly what that cost will be. He highlighted that in other countries, small payments are usually made to facilities to assist in supporting the services offered and ongoing expenses.

Some aspects of the Dr Cecil Cyrus Museum have been transferred to the National Trust, and some of them continue to be displayed and rotated for educational purposes in a lot of the medical programmes offered locally.

Cyrus, who is ill, was unable to physically attend the June 3 reception, which was held at his home in Old Montrose.

Governor General, Dame Susan Dougan, prime minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and chief medical officer, Dr Simone Keizer-Beache were among those in attendance.