CAY HILL–St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) in collaboration with the St. Maarten Sickle Cell Foundation (SSCF) held a conference on World Sickle Cell Day on June 19, to create a platform where medical professionals and patients could participate in a discussion about Sickle Cell Disease.
The conference was themed: “Voices of the Community,” and it was intended to represent the different voices of persons who expressed themselves during the forum.
Amongst those present at the event were members of SSCF, Dr. Cecil Cone and Dr. Golden Jackson, both long-time contributors to SSCF via the American University of the Caribbean (AUC) School of Medicine. Together with the staff and management of SMMC, the two organisations hope to facilitate change to the treatment of individuals with the disease both inside and outside of the hospital’s doors, SMMC said in a press release on Monday.
The event opened with an introductory speech by SSCF Board member Leona Marlin-Romeo and a speech by SMMC Medical Director Dr. Felix Holiday. Cone also gave a short lecture about the disorder. He spoke about the hereditary nature of the condition and the scientific aspects of Sickle Cell Anaemia.
Following his presentation several individuals who have been struggling with the disease spoke about their experiences and what changes they hope to see in treatments and handling. SMMC staff members also discussed their current procedures to bring light to the experiences of medical staff who deal with treating sickle cell patients during crisis. Both sides were given the opportunity to openly discuss the possibilities of positive change through constructive dialogue.
The objective of the conference is a long-term collaboration, SMMC said in the release. The initiative was a jumpstart to improving healthcare in St. Maarten. However, the change will require feasible step-by-step efforts with multiple stakeholders getting involved, the release said. “Going forward this should be the approach, where the different stakeholders come together and take initiatives like this,” Holiday said.
“Sickle Cell Disease won’t ever go away, it is genetic. The more information and awareness received, the more we can save a life. This initiative today is one that the Foundation feels is essential and fits into our objectives as this platform created by the SMMC where doctors, nurses and patients can take part in a discussion about the disease, is just epic,” Romeo-Marlin said.