Thursday, October 23, 2014

Preparing to take that flight

Our daughter left this week for a short vacation.

Here were the steps she took to minimise risk of exposure to the various viruses floating about. You may find them useful.

Be rested to be alert:
- She ensured she had a good night's sleep so that she could be alert during her day of travel.
- She also had a protein-rich breakfast.

She packed:
- Hand sanitizer
- Anti-bacterial wipes
- Dad's handkerchiefs
- Pashmina
- Scarf
- plastic bag
- medium garbage bag

In the airport:
- hands sanitised regularly, especially after exiting washroom - those doors carry germs!
- last-minute visit to washroom to avoid using the one on the plane!

On the plane:

- clean chair handles with anti-bacterial wipes, place waste in own plastic bag and tuck in seat pocket.
- don't touch stuff in seat pockets
- place garbage bag on floor under seat in front of you, then put your hand luggage on it.  Consider this - many shoes have been there before.  Imagine what gets on the bag you place under that seat ... that bag you handle so often!
- turn the air nozzle on over your head to keep area around your head clear - got this tip from a BBC article.
- keep sanitising your hands, especially before eating.
- if anyone is sneezing or coughing around you, use Dad's large kerchief to cover nose and mouth
- also, keep pashmina around shoulders so you can quickly protect face from those coughs and sneezes around you ... as well as protect others if you sneeze!
- when you pick up bag from under seat ... leave garbage bag ... the gloved cleaner can remove.

She arrived safe and sound and will follow this regimen for her return trip.
Please be safe dear travellers!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

MAJ Forum on ChikV and Ebola

The Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ) is very concerned about the impact of ChikV and the potential impact of Ebola on Jamaica.
In consultation with members, they have developed a strategy to improve the understanding of doctors and the public on ChikV and Ebola. One part of their strategy is to host a public forum on "ChikV and Ebola, and it's impact on Jamaica's Health and Economy."
The forum will be free to all participants, and the venue is the Courtleigh Auditorium located at 8 St. Lucia Avenue, Kingston 10, beginning at 5:30pm on Tuesday October 28th 2014.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Vaz for seat of late Roger Clarke

This release was just received from the PNP....
Savana-la-mar, Westmoreland  October, 19, 2014:          Team PNP confirms the following results of the Central Westmoreland Internal Selection vote.
Dwayne Vaz           329
Michael Erskine     245
One ballot was declared spoilt.
The process which was presided over by Region 5 Chairman, Wensworth Skeffrey was declared "incident free".
TEL: 876 978 1337

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ebola - Be careful, not paranoid

by Jean Lowrie-Chin | Jamaica Observer column |13 October 2014

Looming even larger than the pesky chikungunya virus is this ebola scare. A friend of mine who went to the Norman Manley Airport to meet a guest from an African country had a three-hour wait, as health authorities carefully questioned and examined the individual. Finally the visitor was cleared and allowed to leave the airport. I find that reassuring – obviously the Health Ministry is working to ensure that the island’s gateways are well screened.  

It is interesting that we did not see this widespread international frenzy about ebola until the disease arrived in the North, with the death of Thomas Eric Duncan in Texas last Wednesday and the frightening diagnosis of nurse’s aide Teresa Romero in Madrid. 

Yet, four days before Thomas Duncan arrived in the US, and more than a week before he was sent home undiagnosed with antibiotics from the Texas Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas, Reuters reported on September 16, “President Barack Obama on Tuesday called West Africa's deadly Ebola outbreak a looming threat to global security and announced a major expansion of the U.S. role in trying to halt its spread, including deployment of 3,000 troops to the region.”

The report quoted the President further, as he spoke at the Atlanta headquarters of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): "The reality is that this epidemic is going to get worse before it gets better. But, right now, the world still has an opportunity to save countless lives. Right now, the world has the responsibility to act, to step up and to do more. The United States of America intends to do more.”

Did the President’s race affect the way his message was received by other world leaders? We hope not, but what we do know is that even as the brave Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) representatives were appealing to the international community, help was slow in coming.  According to reporter for PBS Frontline Priyanka Boghani, “Doctors Without Borders, or Médecins Sans Frontières as it is known internationally, began its Ebola intervention in March 2014, and now runs five Ebola management centers in the affected countries.” In her interview Dr Estrella Lasry, a tropical medicine adviser at MSF, we understand how contagious this disease can be.  

Dr Lasry explained: “If you’re going to do a rumor check or assess a suspected case in a village, what we do is we don’t talk to the patient straight in front of them. We’re at more or less arm’s-length, talking to the side of the patient because of the risk of contagion by droplet. And we have gloves if we’re going to touch the patient, otherwise no. At this point we’re not using masks, unless we know that a patient is coughing a lot or vomiting.

“When we’re in the triage area in either Ebola facilities or non-Ebola facilities, it varies a little bit, but we’re wearing scrubs, rubber boots, gloves, a mask and goggles most of the time to protect all of the mucuses.

“When we go into the [isolation] ward, we’re wearing full personal protective equipment, which means a Tyvek hazmat suit with a hood on top of it. The suit has a hood that comes with it, but we use another hood that covers the full head, the face, and has a mask, but we wear a mask underneath that as well. And then we have goggles on top of that, double or triple gloves, and boots, and an apron on top of that.”

When the Australian government offered MSF US$2.5 million towards their efforts, they refused the money because what they needed were people to assist them with their labour intensive work.  One woman who survived ebola described the long wait for the dead to be taken from her ward as it takes four persons to do the exercise safely.  When someone has to remove protective gear, it requires another person to assist as a simple slip can cause infection. There are ebola boot camps now in operation around the world where soldiers and civilians are being trained in these procedures.  Hopefully, that is happening here in Jamaica too.

No wonder then that all of us at our office were dishing out advice to a colleague about to go on holiday in New York. As we gave him detailed instructions about handkerchiefs and hand-sanitizers, we saw he was getting a bit unnerved, so we reassured him: don’t be paranoid – just be careful and enjoy your holiday.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


Syringa Marshall-Burnett receiving the CCRP Jamaica 50 Living Legacy Award from GG the Most Hon Sir Patrick Allen, Patron of the organisation
The Board and Management of the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) have expressed deep sorrow at the passing of their founding Director Mrs Syringa Marshall-Burnett.  In 2012, Mrs Marshall-Burnett was honoured as a CCRP Jamaica 50 Living Legacy, for her life of service, not only to the people of Jamaica, but also to the profession of nursing worldwide.  Mrs Marshall-Burnett's dedication to Jamaica's senior citizens was legendary.  As Chairman of the National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC) last month she campaigned for the reduction of JUTC fares, which resulted in a rollback of initially announced rates.  The former NAJ President, Senator and Head of the Senate was respected for her inclusive approach which made her beloved by all Jamaicans, regardless of their political persuasion.

"Despite her many commitments, Mrs Marshall-Burnett agreed serve as a Board Member of the CCRP from its inception in 2010," recalls Chairman Professor Denise Eldemire-Shearer. "She became a pillar of the organization, guiding policy and giving practical advice to our members at nearly all of the organisation's events.  Because of her deep faith, she was usually called upon to give the opening prayer at meetings and events, her inspiring words setting a tone of courage and respect for members of every walk of life."
A lady of keen intellect, Mrs Marshall-Burnett embraced social media and sent inspiring and practical emails to her myriad friends here and abroad.  She was a warm-hearted mentor, ever affirming and positive.

CCRP Founder and CEO Jean Lowrie-Chin wrote on the occasion of Mrs. Marshall Burnett's 75th Birthday of her global reach: "As an external examiner in nursing to the University of Nairobi, Syringa helped their BScN programme to become a reality. As visiting lecturer to the University of Botswana Department of Nursing, she spearheaded their very first annual research day. She has served on the UN's World Health Organisation Expert Committee on Nursing for eight years and was elected a member of the International Council of Nurses, (ICN, Geneva) for eight years, chairing the ICN/3 M International Scholarship Committee." 
Mrs Lowrie-Chin continued: "The St Mary-born Syringa was bright beyond her years, passing her Third Year Exams at such a tender age that she was too young to enter nursing, though academically qualified. Once she graduated from the KPH School of Nursing, she excelled at the University of Toronto and New York University, acquiring a double-major Master's Degree in adult mental health and nursing education, along with certificates in public health. Returning to Jamaica, she obtained a diploma in management studies at UWI…Marshall-Burnett has been the nurse's nurse, intrepidly ensuring the professional advancement of her colleagues. Serving at the UWI first as tutor in the Advanced Nursing Education Unit (ANEU), and later as senior lecturer and director/ head of the Department of Advanced Nursing Education (DANE), she successfully defended the retention of departmental status in the restructuring of the faculty."

CCRP noted that the legacy of Syringa Marshall-Burnett lives on in the excellence of Jamaica's nurses and the increased respect that we pay to our nation's senior citizens.  They extended their   sympathy to Mrs Marshall Burnett's husband Jasper Burnett, step-daughter Jacquie and her many relatives and close friends. May her great soul rest in peace.


Contact Angela Foote 382-6287

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

When the going gets tough ….

by Jean Lowrie-Chin | Jamaica Observer column | 6 OCT 2014

Fenton Ferguson Official 8x10
Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson
Whenever we see folks trying to handle a crisis, our team will huddle to examine the approach and discuss what we would have done if they were our clients.  We all agreed that an insular ‘broadcast to the nation’ was not an appropriate vehicle to communicate the chikungunya crisis now touching almost every household in Jamaica.  The whole crisis started out badly – though I understand that it was not solely the decision of Health Minister Fenton Ferguson to soft pedal the news. 
This column has given kudos to Minister Ferguson for bravely soldiering through on legislation to control smoking in public places.  However, we cannot understand his approach to the ChikV issue - why he would have understated a situation which is an act of nature, not of his ministry?   

Further, even as we complain rightly about uncollected garbage, the minister should point out that those millions of mini-breeding sites in the form of plastic bottles, did not walk into the gullies.  They were thrown there by careless Jamaicans who continue to show little pride in their environment. 
Jamaica beach clean-up - from
In a conversation with two young Cubans, they told us that part of their post-high school one-year military service was ‘mosquito inspection’.  When we asked them what it involved, they explained that groups of them would be assigned to neighbourhoods across the length and breadth of the country where they were trained to identify and destroy mosquito breeding sites and counsel householders.
With unemployment a huge issue for school leavers and funding available for health and environment, perhaps the government could consider such a programme under JEEP, expanding it to weekly beach and gully cleaning. 
So how would our team have advised the Minister on his approach to the chikungunya issue? First, they believe, he should have called an urgent press conference flanked by the Permanent Secretary and the Chief Medical Officer. They should have made all the facts known to the media, showed that they have a cohesive plan that they would roll out immediately to minimize the impact of the disease and answered questions as fully and as frankly as possible.
The ministry could have immediately utilized material from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) to get the word out as quickly as possible to the general public through press, broadcast media and social media. Organisations like the JTA, NAJ, PSOJ, Council of Churches and Police Federation cover the entire island, so they could easily share this information and lead clean-up activities.
What makes simple, logical steps so difficult, is bureaucracy – that morass which is the perfect hiding place for mediocrity and incompetence.  While we must respect our democratically elected government, they should in turn respect the people they swore to serve.  There is nothing wrong with hiring people who are loyal and share your perspective on policy … as long as such individuals are ethical and professional.  When people are hired simply because they are party ‘groupies’, they will become nothing but a source of embarrassment to the government and a pain to the nation.
This ChikV issue, the sad story of the man who died on the floor of the Spanish Town Hospital, the late arrival of provisions for meals at the St. Ann’s Bay hospital, the absence of elected representatives in crises, result from gaps in governance.  

Serious brain-drain 

Meanwhile, there is a serious brain-drain now happening as people become victims of this ‘conspiracy of mediocrity’, mostly in the public sector but elsewhere as well. There are workplaces where excellence is not welcome, and where integrity is the enemy.  Managers who require certain standards of work are deemed ‘miserable’ and workers who try to deliver results are regarded as fools.  In this conspiracy of mediocrity, you can carry on your private business on other people’s time with other people’s utilities and office supplies.  Clearly, you must hound anyone who has a different set of values out of your organisation.  Hence the many one-way tickets being bought by some of our best and brightest.
Government ministers who know better should keep a keen eye on the leaders in their organizations and allied agencies.  As friendly governments and agencies hear the cries of other states in dire need, Jamaica may start showing herself undeserving of all the attention that has been lavished on her.  Think about this:  Father Holung’s Brothers of the Poor ride around in the back of trucks and they are the ones being called by government representatives to take in persons found sick and dying in the streets.  Those representatives calling the Brothers are riding around in late model SUVs.  Something is very wrong with that picture.
This agonizing ChikV is a metaphor for the pain and suffering that is being felt by humble Jamaicans, barely surviving on the margins of poverty. They deserve some hope that our leaders will do right by them, bringing our nation to a healthy state.