PRESS RELEASE — ‘WOMAN power’ was on show when the Saint Lucia Medical & Dental Association (SLMDA) held its awards of excellence ceremony on Saturday, March 7, 2020, at Sandals Golf Club, Cap Estate.
The date of the event was very significant, as it was the eve of International Women’s Day – an occasion to spotlight the pioneering work of women in the medical profession, as well as to energize the dreams and ambitions of the present generation of female practitioners.
Echoes of the ceremony’s theme song, ‘This Girl Is On Fire’ by Alicia Keys pervaded the halls of the ceremony, as SLMDA President, the evanescent Dr. Merle Clarke, primed the elegantly dressed capacity audience for a night of celebration. She used her opening remarks to motivate her colleagues.
Overall, it was a night in which the SLMDA paused to acknowledge the day-to-day efforts and contributions of physicians and dentists in the medical fraternity, and honored the best-of-the-best.
Women dominated the competitive categories. Dr. Tanisha Francis emerged as Intern of the Year; Dr. Cleopatra Altenor-Theobalds was named ‘Junior Physician of the Year’; Dr. Johnoma Giffard captured the award for ‘Most Dedicated Team Member’; and Dr. Lisa Charles copped the ‘Most Outstanding Physician’ award.
Competitive Awards captured by men were ‘Outstanding Dental Practitioner’ – Dr. Kent Glace; ‘Outstanding Service to the SLMDA’ – Dr. Leonard Surage; and ‘People’s Choice’ – Dr. Ira Simmons.
The SLMDA ceremony opened with a moment of remembrance of two women physicians – Dr. Erica Gibbs and Dr. Betty Wells – who were trailblazers in the Saint Lucia public health services, though born overseas. Their challenges in past decades to gain acceptance and establish themselves as professional equals to their male colleagues were recognised.
Four female veteran practitioners were proclaimed ‘honorees’ of the SLMDA. These were: Dr.
Grecilda Gogumala, Dr. Elizabeth Lewis, Dr. Adela Lalsingh and Dr. Asmina Long (Dentist).
A ‘Special Award’ was bestowed on recently retired Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Merlene Fredericks-James.
A musical serenade of awardees by saxophonist Dylan ‘De Sax’ St. Jules was perhaps the most touching moment of a night filled with nostalgia, sentimentality, achievement, contemplation and dreams of the highest excellence in medical practice in Saint Lucia.
The SLMDA ceremony was graced with the presence of women who have distinguished themselves in public service. Among them were current and past ministers of Health, Ms. Mary Isaac and Ms Alvina Reynolds, respectively; former minister of Tourism, Ms Menissa Rambally; former minister of Commerce, Ms. Emma Hippolyte; and minister with responsibility for Culture and Creative Industries, Senator Fortuna Belrose.