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Downstate Times

The Newsletter for SUNY Downstate
University Hospital of Brooklyn

Medical Mission to Tobago

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In her discussion with President John Williams, Claudia Groome-Duke, Tobago's Secretary of Health and Social Services, describes her plans to improve health care and disease prevention in Tobago.


Known within the global health community for the excellence of its health education, research, and patient care, Downstate is often visited by foreign dignitaries who wish to develop health initiatives in their country modeled on our own.

On May 6, the Honorable Claudia Groome-Duke, MSW, Tobago's Secretary of Health and Social Services, toured University Hospital and met with President John Williams, hospital administrators, physicians, nursing staff, and the deans of CHRP and the School of Public Health.

One purpose of her visit, she said, was to learn about hospital operations and best practices here that might be implemented at Scarborough General Hospital, a new medical facility in Signal Hill in the capital city of Tobago.

Ms. Duke views the new hospital as an important step toward achieving sustainable, self-sufficient healthcare delivery for Tobago. She explained that, previously, critically ill patients were flown to Trinidad for treatment, or had to make the two-and-a-half-hour trip by ferry.

The new hospital has modern diagnostic equipment and offers comprehensive ambulatory services; physicians can even access their patients' medical records electronically. Still lacking, however, are nurses with advanced professional skills. Ms. Duke is interested in developing training that will prepare nurses in Tobago to care for a patient population with high rates of diabetes, hypertension, and cancer.

Ms. Duke's visit was arranged by Stephen J. H. Isaac, a member of FM&D and vice president/chief public relations officer of the Tobago Progressive Association (TPA). Since 1999, Mr. Isaac and Avril Trancoso, RN, OPD Suite I, medical mission coordinator for TPA, have been organizing missions to Tobago.

"This summer, more than 40 health professionals will make the trip, including 10 from Downstate," Mr. Isaac reported.

For the first time, several Downstate physical therapists have volunteered for the mission. One of them, Joanne Katz, PhD, DPT, chair of the Physical Therapy Program in the College of Health Related Professions, is an expert on physical therapy for children.

"I hope to speak to parents to show them how they can engage their children in therapeutic exercises in the home," she said.

Several physicians and nurses, including patient-educator Sarah Marshall, MS, RN, will also be going to Tobago in July.

[We look forward to reporting on their experiences in the Downstate Times once they return—ed.]


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The Hon. Claudia Groome-Duke, Secretary of Health and Social Services for Tobago, pays a visit to Downstate, accompanied by Stephen Isaac (left), Michael Harrell, AVP for Community and Government Relations, and Avril Trancoso, RN.

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Joanne Katz, PhD, DPT, explains how this simulation model is used to teach PT students to monitor patients recovering from cardiac and pulmonary illnesses.



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Devon John, MD, chief of transplantation surgery and a native of Tobago, leads a tour of the hospital's new transplant unit.

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Nelcia Trim, RN (center), who also hails from Tobago, explains how supplies are organized at NS 82.