Jamaica Health, Beauty, Weddings & Motherhood Stories for the Jamaican Woman – Jamaica Observer – All Woman

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Women’s Health Heroes – Pt 6


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Dr Alfred Dawes, Medical Director, Windsor Wellness Centre.

General, Laparoscopic and weight loss surgeon

What he does:

I specialise in bariatric surgery. This involves changing the size of the stomach and rerouting the path of consumed food leading to hormonal changes, decreased calories digested and subsequent weight loss. With over a third of Jamaican women obese, bariatric surgery and other weight loss methods offered have significantly impacted the health of many who suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome, diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnoea and importantly for many, their self confidence and depression.

What made you fall in love with the job that you do?

It was seeing how it changed my patients’ lives when they lost weight and many chronic conditions improved or disappeared that saw my love for bariatric surgery grow. They literally become a new person. I never feel as rewarded even when I remove a cancer to help someone return to normal. After bariatric surgery it is a whole new normal that patients experience and I love being a part of that transformative process.

What would you say is your field’s most valuable contribution to Jamaican women?

I have helped many women with fertility issues because of their weight. The birth of a child extends my work beyond the present generation.

What makes focusing on women’s health important to you?

Women are the bedrock of Jamaican society. Not only do we have the most female managers per capita in the world, but women head up far more households and are tasked with taking care of families and juggling careers. We can’t allow our most valuable resource to get sick!

What makes your field particularly dynamic and interesting?

Bariatric surgery is constantly involving to less invasive methods and the benefits of the procedures are updated continuously. Bariatrics is rapidly growing and is at the forefront of the surgical field. It is an interesting place to be, on the frontiers of medicine.

If you had one bit of advice for Jamaican women, what would it be?

If you see your weight climbing it is easier to stop the weight gain than trying to reverse it when your body mass index gets too high. Nip it in the bud!

What’s one interesting thing that your patients probably don’t know about you?

I am an avid gardener in my spare time. That’s my safe space where I relax and unwind.

If you could trade this job for anything, would you?

At some point I might consider trading in the knife for the pen and become a writer, but that would be long from now.

Dr Noel James McLennon, Consultant Paediatric Surgeon & Public Health (Health Management) Consultant

What he does:

My job as a paediatric surgeon primarily caters to children with medical conditions requiring surgical operations and procedures to correct or treat them. A paediatric surgeon is a specialist who is trained to diagnose, treat, and manage the preoperative, operative, and postoperative care of the child. We care for and operate on children whose development ranges from intra uterine life to the newborn through to the teenage years. Paediatric surgeons have expertise in the following areas of responsibility: prenatal surgery (detect abnormalities and plan for surgical corrections during the foetal stage of development); neonatal surgery (specialised knowledge in the surgical repair of birth defects in the newborn); trauma (knowledge in the surgical care and prevention of traumatic injuries); paediatric surgical oncology (knowledge of the diagnosis and surgical care of children with cancers and other growths); and surgical problems of the gastrointestinal tract, such as inflammatory bowel disease, appendicitis, gastroesophageal reflux (reflux of food from the stomach to the oesophagus or trachea). Paediatric surgeons are also trained to care for certain surgical problems of the neck, skin and soft tissues, and vascular and endocrine systems.

The scope of my job is inextricably tied to mothers’ well-being, comfort and reassurance, and so an important aspect of the job involves antenatal screening and counselling of pregnant women whose unborn babies have been diagnosed with congenital conditions requiring surgical intervention either during pregnancy or shortly after birth of the baby.

What made you fall in love with the job that you do?

I have always loved to work with and for children. Their pure innocence and unfettered charm and uncanny ability to bring joy to their families endears me to them. I loved the field of surgery from early medical school training at the University of the West Indies, Mona. Therefore it was a natural fit to combine the two areas of interest. I later decided to pursue studies in public health to broaden the appreciation of the context within which I practice surgery.

What would you say is your field’s most valuable contribution to Jamaican women?

Surgical operations, which include electives (scheduled) and emergencies, on children in Jamaica are estimated to be over 6000 per year in the public and private sectors. The burden of surgical condition in children has a direct impact on the rates of maternal mortality and morbidity. The emotional distress placed upon mothers when their children are ill is immeasurable. Girls who present to the paediatric surgeon for a variety of gynaecological complaints are attended to and advised along with their parents. A paediatric surgeon is really the paediatric gynaecologist who treat many conditions of the reproductive system including birth defects, tumours, some abnormalities resulting from precocious puberty and breast lumps and other breast conditions.

What makes focusing on women’s health important to you?

The healthier the mother, emotionally and physically, the more she will be in a position to give her child the optimum care and attention deserved. Invariably, in my weekly surgical clinic which on average numbers well over 100 patients being seen, 98 per cent of the accompanying parent is the mother of the child. Sometimes these women have to take time off from work, share time between the sick child and other healthy siblings; balancing the responsibilities of motherhood and working life.

What makes your field particularly dynamic and interesting?

The field of paediatric surgery is dynamic because of the unique and necessary arrangement between child and parent. Every child presents to the doctor with a parent(s). The child has his/personality and so does each parent. The child care specialist must understand that although there is a duty to the young patient.

If you had one bit of advice for Jamaican women, what would it be?

It’s important to plan for children. Your child may get sick with minor or major illnesses; however, seek medical advice early for your child. In most cases of serious illnesses, early detection will change the course for the better. For example, a lump in the child’s tummy is far more amenable to complete removal when detected earlier. Mothers have a pivotal role in helping to detect conditions early.

What’s one interesting thing that your patients probably don’t know about you?

I was an electrical engineer and a high school mathematics teacher before I became a medical doctor.

If you could trade this job for anything, would you?

No trade. I love being a surgeon and I love taking care of children.

Dr Leroy V Campbell

Obstetrician/Gynaecologist, Maternofoetal medicine specialist

What he does:

A modern OBGYN is a doctor that specialises in women’s health especially as it relates to conditions of the reproductive system (uterus, ovaries, vagina and breasts). Obstetrics deals specifically with the care of women doing pregnancy and childbirth.

A maternofoetal medicine specialist is an obstetrician that further specialises in the care of very high risk pregnancies. These are pregnancies complicated by maternal or foetal condition that increase the risk of serious complications or even death of mother or baby.

What made you fall in love with the job that you do?

Two reasons:

1. I started out as a general practitioner and after a couple years in general practice I decided that I wanted to go back to do additional studies and specialise. When I started to think about what area to specialise in, I realised that I really enjoyed interactions with my female patients. Women tend to be far more motivated as it relates to the care of their health and they have a greater tendency to take preventative measures and to comply with recommendations for their well-being.

2.I enjoyed the challenge of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Being a good obstetrician and gynecologist requires that you be fairly well rounded. It requires a diversity of knowledge and skills because it incorporates varying aspects from the three main pillars of medicine (adult medicine, paediatric medicine and surgery). I consider myself to be very well balanced as a doctor and I enjoy the opportunity to put my diverse skills to use.

The decision the subspecialise in maternofoetal medicine came from a recognition that more and more women are entering pregnancy with chronic illnesses (heart disease, sickle cell disease, seizure disorders) and as a result greater need for having OBGYNs who are not just comfortable, but embrace the challenge of caring for such patients.

What would you say is your field’s most valuable contribution to Jamaican women?

I would say that most valuable contribution has been the lives saved – both the lives of our women as well as the lives of the many babies that would otherwise have not made it.

What makes focusing on women’s health important to you?

I think woman are the glue that holds society together. A society that has strong, stable women invariably becomes a strong, stable society. Women are the nurturers, the ones that invariably lead the way in inculcating the characteristics that shape out society. Women hold society together and give us men the inspiration to pull it forward. Now more than ever we need our women to be cared for.

What makes your field particularly dynamic and interesting?

I think it’s dynamic and interesting because of the diversity. I also enjoy the challenge of anticipating. The main characteristics of a good obstetrician is the ability to anticipate problems and put measures in place to mitigate them before they even happen. I embrace that challenge; the pressure to always remain one step ahead of disease.

If you had one bit of advice for Jamaican women, what would it be?

I think my advice to Jamaican would be to love themselves and to know their worth. I think we have some of the most amazing women in this country – strong, hardworking, highly motivated, independent, yet caring. It is my observation, however, that our women are too willing to settle for less than their worth.

I believe that when you know your value it forces others to elevate their own performance in order to stay in your space. I think it would make a world of difference in the quality of life that women experience in this country if they new how beautiful they were and how much they were worth.

What’s one interesting thing that your patients probably don’t know about you?

That I am also a pastor. I tend not to tell patients because I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable. I find that many times persons feel that they are going to be judged whenever they’re dealing with a minister of religion and so they hold back. The truth is that I am perhaps one of the least judgemental persons you will ever meet. I embrace the fact that I am just as flawed as anyone else and as such I have no inclination to be judgemental. I am just a man doing my best to be my best and make my best contribution in this walk of life.

If you could trade this job for anything, would you?

I can’t think of anything I would trade it for. I have many other interests and ways of serving, but they are additions, not replacements.





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