Basseterre, St. Kitts: Minister of State with responsibility for Health, Honourable Wendy Phipps, has expressed the government’s pride in being able to treat cancer patients at the Joseph N. France (JNF) General Hospital, saying that it marks a “milestone of advanced healthcare delivery in the Federation” of St. Kitts and Nevis.
While updating the nation on developments at the Oncology Unit, which opened on December 06, 2016, Minister Phipps stated that “the first chemotherapy treatment was done on Monday, January 09, 2017” and lasted for just over three hours. Two more patients were also treated in January. The patients were all females between the ages of 31 and 49 and the cancers were of the breast and colon.
“We can now proudly state that chemotherapy-based treatments for cancer can now be ably, safely and effectively provided right here in our country,” Minister Phipps said on Friday (January 20), while addressing the Federal Parliament.
The chemotherapy-based treatment, which is being provided at this introductory phase, is being implemented by a four-person team. It is being led by Oncologist, Dr. Yanelis Leon Duran, of Cuba. He is supported by local Staff Nurse, Icilma Wilkin, whose post will be upgraded to Assistant Nurse Manager in keeping with the tradition that every department within the JNF Hospital is led by an Assistant Nurse Manager or Nurse Manager. The oncology team is completed by Staff Nurses Katherine Cabello and Phoebe Kates Cayacap, both of the Philippines, who have a combined experience of 12 years. They serve patients in a facility that features three treatment rooms with five treatment areas. Contained within are an Examination Room, Doctor’s Office, Nurses’ Office, Bio-safety Cabinet/Medication Mixing Room and a Utility Room.
In addition to the three patients currently being served, three more are being prepared for treatment. Minister Phipps said the availability of the chemotherapy-based treatment eliminates the need for patients to secure financing for airfare and accommodation to travel overseas for treatment, and allows patients access to their local support system of friends and families, which helps to create a positive mindset aiding the road to recovery.
“Mr. Speaker, I wish to use this platform to encourage each and every one of our citizens to actively police his or her health; to have regular medical check-ups; and to participate in regular screenings for cancer, especially pap smears (to screen for cervical cancer), PSA tests (to screen for prostate-specific antigen levels as an indicator of prostate cancer in men), and colonoscopies (to screen for growths or polyps in the colon that can later develop into colon cancer),” Minister Phipps said. “It cannot be stressed enough that it is much cheaper and easier to prevent illnesses than it is to treat illnesses. We must all be reminded that a truly prosperous and wealthy nation is essentially a healthy nation.”