Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 4, 2023 (Ministry of Health): In a remarkable stride towards advanced healthcare and improved quality of life for its citizens, the JNF General Hospital is set to observe the Hemodialysis Week from September 3rd to 10th. The celebratory week began with a church service at Faith Tabernacle Church of God in Old Road, where a short ceremony was held to show appreciation for the current staff of dedicated nurses who give high-quality care to patients of the hemodialysis unit.
The week continues with a public demonstration of the state-of-the-art machinery that aids hemodialysis patients at JNF General Hospital, while other activities also include an open day, raffle, symposium and day of activities in Nevis.
This celebration holds a special significance, as it commemorates the history and achievements of the hospital’s Hemodialysis Unit, which was inaugurated in 2013 under the visionary leadership of Her Excellency Dame Marcella Liburd, then Minister of Health, and the esteemed former Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas. Prior to the establishment of this unit, citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis who were diagnosed with kidney disease had to undertake the daunting journey to other countries for their critical treatment.
The realization of the Hemodialysis Unit marked a watershed moment for healthcare in the nation. Both Dame Marcella Liburd and Dr. Denzil Douglas shared an unwavering commitment to providing world-class medical facilities for their fellow citizens. This shared vision transformed the healthcare landscape, significantly enhancing the lives of countless individuals. The establishment of this pioneering unit was further propelled by the dedicated efforts of then Chief Medical Officer Dr. Patrick Martin and Chief Internist Dr. Bichara S. Sahely, whose expertise and determination were instrumental in its success.
Undoubtedly, the addition of the Hemodialysis Unit at JNF General Hospital came at a substantial cost, but it was a resolute decision to invest in the well-being of the nation’s people. The pressing need for advanced care for kidney disease patients spurred the leaders to take this vital step. Notably, this venture also marked the introduction of the first Nephrologist into the Institutional-Based Health System. Since that milestone, a Nephrologist has remained an indispensable member of the specialist staff at JNF General Hospital, ensuring that patients receive the specialized care they deserve.
A pivotal moment in the journey of the Hemodialysis Unit arrived with its expansion and upgrade, highlighted by the acquisition of new dialysis machines. This transformative upgrade was made possible through the generous donation of fifteen hemodialysis machines in May of this year. The machines were gifted by St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, a gesture facilitated by the dedicated efforts of Mr. Charles Estridge, a biomedical engineer hailing from Tabernacle, St. Kitts, who currently resides in Canada.
Mr. Estridge’s commitment to his homeland, coupled with the cooperation of his fellow biomedical engineer and two senior dialysis nurses, created a remarkable synergy that transcended borders. This collaboration wasn’t limited to just the machines; the delegation of medical professionals also conducted an extensive training session with the JNF dialysis unit staff, ensuring that the equipment would be utilized to its fullest potential for the benefit of the patients.
Under the guidance of current Prime Minister and Minister of Health Dr. Drew’s visionary leadership, the government of St. Kitts and Nevis has embraced the vital importance of the Hemodialysis Unit’s development and enhancement. This commitment is poignantly evident in the unit’s current configuration, featuring a total of eight hemodialysis machines – the highest number ever available for patient use in its history. This represents a remarkable doubling of the unit’s capacity since Dr. Drew assumed office just over a year ago. The government’s resolute investments in the unit’s advancement echo its enduring commitment to the welfare of its citizens and the continual pursuit of excellence in healthcare provision.
Building upon the foundation of the Hemodialysis Unit’s success, the Dr. Drew-led administration has taken bold strides toward elevating renal-care services in St. Kitts and Nevis. An exciting and significant development on the horizon is the strategic expansion of the JNF General Hospital’s capabilities, as they set their sights on the introduction of kidney transplant services. This audacious move underscores the commitment to providing holistic care and life-altering interventions, demonstrating a steadfast dedication to realizing the highest standards of medical care for the nation’s citizens.
As the Hemodialysis Week unfolds, it’s an opportunity for the entire nation to reflect on the decade of invaluable service the unit has provided. From its groundbreaking inception to its recent expansion, the Hemodialysis Unit at JNF General Hospital has demonstrated the power of vision, collaboration, and dedication. It has offered a lifeline to those who were once faced with the challenge of seeking treatment abroad, now enabling them to access world-class care within their own nation.