York College forum targets development of Jamaican-American health care

York College forum targets development of Jamaican-American health care
Claudette Powell, a representative of the Jamaica Nurses Group of New York, is on a mission to help update nursing education in Jamaica.
Photo by Naeisha Rose
By Naeisha Rose

Members of the York College alumni association held a networking forum May 6 with officials from the island of Jamaica to help develop the nation’s health-care system.

York College has a robust nursing program that many Jamaican and Jamaican-Americans attend. Nursing is also one of the most stable job professions on the island, according to the Jamaican Ministry of Labour’s website.

The Organization for Strategic Development in Jamaica and the Organization for International Development hosted the Jamaican Ministry of Health at a networking forum at the university on May 6.

During the event the OID gave out small medical equipment that monitors heart health and diabetes to the ministry so it could be used in hospitals in the rural areas of Jamaica.

The purpose of the event was to find ways to have an educational exchange that will aid in developing the health-care system in Jamaica.

Two of the professors at the event were Dr. Claudette McFarquhar and Marguarett Alexander, both of whom started working at the school’s nursing department in 2012.

“I’m from Jamaica and I’m at that giving-back stage of my life,” McFarquchar said. “So that is why, right now, we have a service-learning course at the nursing department.”

“Dr. Mhas traveled back with me to Haiti, so we have a spectrum in terms of need,” Alexander said. “We are really looking to see what are the areas of partnership and what is needed.”

Running the hospitals in the four medical regions of Jamaica does not come without issues.

These hospitals’ “lack of durable medical equipment, such as your wheelchair, your bed, and supplies are always short of equipment,” said Claudette Powell, a representative of the Jamaica’s Nurses Group, a health organization. “They are short of specialty nurses, so the education part is needed. Information technology, something that in this day and age where you can make a medical record, is badly in need.”

Jamaican Ministry of Health specialist Sonia Copeland is elated about addressing the need for better hospitals and nurses.

“It’s very exciting that we are having this conference in New York,” Copeland said. “This meeting is very significant because this is where you have a very large diaspora.”

There are over 300,000 Jamaicans in New York state alone, according to the City-data.com.

Helping to address the problem was Wayland Richards, the founder of the Organization for International Development. Through his organization and the U.S. Department of Health, students in the medical field in Jamaica get specialized training in developed countries, and students from developed countries get to work in the island and bring their knowledge in different specialities, like intensive care medicine.

“Thousands of people from the U.K. and the U.S. get to engage in a cultural exchange and vice versa,” Richards said. “ We hope to see sustainable relationships in some form at the institutional level.”

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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