CAYMAN ISLANDS - The Cayman Islands' medical community has joined together to assist the storm-ravaged people of The Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian's assault on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama last month.
Representatives of the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority (HSA), Health City Cayman Islands and CTMH Doctors Hospital all contributed to the effort by sending medical aid - including personnel, medicines and other medical supplies, via chartered Cayman Airways flights.
The effort was coordinated in conjunction with the Cayman Islands Government, including the Premier's Office and the Ministry of Health. The government of The Bahamas had been in touch with Cayman's medical community immediately after the storm to advise what supplies were most urgently needed.
Cayman Islands Minister of Health Dwayne Seymour said: "We can empathize with the situation of the Bahamian people affected by Hurricane Dorian, and wish to assist the Bahamas government as best as possible in this difficult time. With our own Cayman Islands having experienced the devastation of Hurricane Ivan, we understand the level of medical need that arises in times of disaster recovery. We are grateful to our local medical facilities for banding together to help, and stand ready to assist however we can in the weeks ahead."
Each of the Cayman Islands' three hospitals sent a truckload of supplies to the Cayman Airways cargo center, where medicines and other medical equipment were gathered and made ready for the first relief flight on September 16, carrying a combined total of over 4,000 pounds of medical relief supplies.
A second flight on September 20 carried a medical team of six registered nurses from the HSA and Health City to join the disaster relief efforts in The Bahamas. Their mission was to provide relief support to medical workers in the care of people requiring urgent medical attention.
The medical team members include Maria Barnes-Campbell, Marlon Soriano, Riley Ondoy and Marian Slater of the HSA and Joseph John and Mahesha Dundumadaiah of Health City. The group is currently conducting clinics and assisting with any other necessary medical care in Marsh Harbour, Abaco Islands. A second group will be sent this month to give respite to this first group of nurses, who will then return home.
Dr. Binoy Chattuparambil, clinical director and chief cardiac surgeon of Health City Cayman Islands said that his staff were deeply saddened by the devastation wrought by Dorian, and eager to lend a helping hand.
"We are committed to providing access to medical care throughout the Caribbean, and wish to do all that we can to assist the people of The Bahamas," he said. "Our role in the relief effort will focus on providing urgent medical care, and we are sending medical personnel, medicines and medical supplies as part of the overall relief mission from the Cayman Islands.
"We work closely with the Bahamas physician community and welcome the opportunity to be a part of this humanitarian effort. We are very proud of our team members who will be doing their part to assist the people of The Bahamas," Dr. Chattuparambil said.
He continued: "We give our thanks to the Ministry of Health and the Health Services Authority, especially the Honorable Minister Seymour, CEO Lizzette Yearwood and Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee for coordinating this initiative. It is heartwarming to see our islands' Caymankind ethos in action from a medical perspective. All of Cayman's health care providers work together locally for the good of our patients every day, and we are extending this spirit of fraternity as we join together to assist our Bahamian neighbors in their time of need."
HSA Chief Executive Officer Lizzette Yearwood reiterated the importance of the medical community standing together in times of need, and noted the variety of medical needs in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
She said: "We are happy to provide some respite time for our health care counterparts in The Bahamas to allow them to look after themselves and their families. As health care professionals we are required to provide 24-hour medical care regardless of our personal circumstances. We have sent experienced health professionals whose areas of specialty range from critical care and operating room to maternity and emergency care."
She also harkened back to the Cayman Islands' previous experience in dealing with a hurricane's aftermath.
"The devastation they are facing is one that hits close to home, as we look back at our experiences with Hurricane Ivan. As medical professionals, we recognize the need of these supplies as it will help care for those most vulnerable at this time. We are keeping them in our prayers as they work to recover and rebuild," said the HSA Chief Executive Officer.
Shomari Scott, director of business development for Health City Cayman Islands, said that many members of the Cayman community remember Ivan quite intimately and want to be of service to their neighbors.
"We want to send our support to our Caribbean family, our Bahamian brothers and sisters who have been so severely impacted by Hurricane Dorian," he said. "Many in our local community recently marked the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Ivan's devastation of Grand Cayman, and we can deeply empathize with the people of The Bahamas in the storm's aftermath. Our prayers are with them as they mourn their losses and begin the mammoth task of recovery."