Mid-summer is Carnival season in St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and at this time of year, the streets are packed with visitors and locals enjoying the cultural experience that is “Vincymas.” Against this backdrop, Trinity’s American Medical Students Association (AMSA) chapter held a series of clinics in the Vincentian capital city of Kingstown. The clinics provided health checks and continued the ongoing national project of addressing the two primary chronic health concerns in St. Vincent: hypertension and diabetes. Read on for student insights, local comments, and a gallery of our students in action in this vibrant time!
Lauren Sprague, president of AMSA, was delighted that both locals and tourists were patronizing the service Trinity students provided, “We come out here once a month mostly and give free health checks for people here in SVG. The service we provide is for anyone here, whether tourists or residents of St. Vincent. We’re really happy that all are taking advantage of it.”
Trinity students are dedicated to practicing their skills but also taking part in healthcare as early as they can. Activities like these are excellent additional practice on top of their early rotations in Milton Cato Memorial Hospital. The AMSA students stayed busy across a series of consecutive stations on the prime routes of the rolling party that is the nation’s carnival. Vital checks included temperature, heart and respiratory rate, blood pressure, and blood glucose. At the final station, all numbers were explained to clients, and those with elevated vitals were advised to make an appointment with their doctor in the near future.
A couple visiting from the United Kingdom for Carnival joined the line of people being checked. Upon receipt and explanation of their numbers, they were eager to comment. “I felt it essential to have these kinds of ‘road doctors’ that people can go to and put their mind at rest.” The couple expressed their satisfaction. “I think it’s wonderful to do this,” one chimed in excitedly, “we do this in England too and we think it’s great! My husband is diabetic, and now he has a current blood glucose as we’re out and about today.”
Their energy was echoed by AMSA President Sprague, “St. Vincent has welcomed us here as students and it’s just nice to give back and sharpen our skills. We come out and make sure that they know they’re healthy and, if they’re not, to guide them in the right direction.”
A local market vendor who was hypertensive commented, “I am glad for this because sometimes you don’t have the chance to go to the clinic to get checked. Look, I got a free service right here! It was a long time that I didn’t check my pressure and it’s good and because I know that, I’m satisfied!” She also commented on the excellent bedside manner of the Trinity students, how it had put her at ease.
Anitesh Jaswal, 5th term student, who has attended every health fair conducted by AMSA since his arrival at Trinity, was one of the persons with whom the vendor interacted. When questioned about his interactions with the clients, he responded with, “This is good practice and it keeps my skills fresh. So far today, I’ve already seen thirty patients so that’s thirty more times I get to practice taking blood pressure and heart rate or respiratory rate; and learning to be a better doctor down the line.”
In the community of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, AMSA has been playing the important role of promoting the awareness of chronic hypertension and diabetes. Jaswal continued, “It’s good to raise awareness in the community and encourage people to be proactive about their health. I think a health fair like this may open people’s eyes to some things they might not know about and could get them to play a bigger role in taking care of themselves which, down the line, relieves the burden on the health care system.”
President Sprague agreed, “Yes, one of the key points in AMSA is giving awareness to hypertension and diabetes, they’re national issues that the government is focused on addressing, so that’s why we come out here whenever we can.” In addition to health fairs like these, AMSA also does blood pressure and blood sugar checks for sporting activities like the semi-annual 5K Glow Run and other runs conducted in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.