THE recent tragedy at the quarry in Cul-de-Sac has brought into sharp focus the need to institutionalize the existing informal arrangements with the University Hospital of Martinique (CHUM) in the area of medical cooperation.
This cooperation has been the norm for decades and is based on four pillars: teaching, training, transport (evacuations) and health care provision. It is not limited to St. Lucia but covers the entire Caribbean — from Jamaica to Trinidad. It is perhaps one of the best examples of the borders of our Caribbean not being a barrier to regional cooperation.
It is important to note that this cooperation is based on hospital to hospital, physician to physician relationships, without a mandatory requirement for official or governmental intervention. Efforts to formalize the cooperation regime began in earnest in 2014 when the CHUM met with health officials in St. Lucia to discuss a memorandum of understanding.
Nonetheless, the CHUM has continued to work with regional health care providers in both the public and private sectors. This work has been assisted by a French-registered non-profit association, the Caribbean Doctors Association (CDA), whose president, Dr.DaborResiere, is a critical care specialist, and the deputy head of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the CHUM. He is a member of the St. Lucia Medical & Dental Association and a toxicologist currently conducting research on anti-venom for our fer-de-lance snake.
The CDA was contacted at about 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday evening of the explosion by a local physician, requesting our assistance to urgently establish contact between Victoria Hospital and the CHUM and alert the CHU that emergency medical evacuations would be required. The CHUM then contacted Victoria Hospital and together they made the necessary arrangements for evacuation of four patients to Martinique. SLASPA facilitated the first of two helicopter transfers at 4:00 a.m the following morning. CHUM confirmed (as at March 22) that the patients were in stable condition at the ICU.
The CDA is proud to assist in the facilitation of health care-related services for those in need. In addition to the mainly French-based (Martinique, France) physicians, St. Lucians Martin Didier and Romel Daniel are also members.