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The Canadian Friends of St. Thomas Healthcare Organization (CFSTHO) will be sponsoring two Canadian eye-care specialists on a five-day medical visit to Jamaica from February 20 to 24.
Optometrist, Dr. Samuel Ho and optician German Cuartas, assisted by President Andrea Wilkie and approximately 14 other members of the organization, will conduct eye examinations and distribute eyeglasses to residents of St. Thomas at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Morant Bay.
Chairman of the CFSTHO, Mr. Dan Williamson gave details of the visit at a recent appreciation reception for sponsors held at the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA) Community Centre in Toronto, Canada.
“This clinic is replacing one that was cancelled last year in the wake of Hurricanes Dennis and Emily which affected the Princess Margaret Hospital,” said Mr. Williamson, who is also the group’s Public Relations Officer.
The 21-year-old organization, comprising mainly former residents of St. Thomas now living in Canada, has been conducting eye-care clinics at the Princess Margaret Hospital since 1999.
According to Mr. Williamson, at least 200 patients have been helped at each of the medical visits organized by the group. The Canadians have also outfitted the clinic with optical equipment.
“The residents come to us for eye examinations and get fitted with eye glasses. The ones who are diagnosed with cataracts and glaucoma, we make arrangements for them to get operations at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) or at the FISH clinic in Papine,” said Mr. Williamson.
During the visit the group will honour local community members who have assisted them over the years and unveil a plaque in memory of the late Dr. J. George Sewell, the Jamaican-born Canadian optometrist who assisted the group in their outreach programmes from 1999 to 2002.
In 2002, after returning to Canada from St. Thomas, Dr. Sewell was diagnosed with stomach cancer and died in February 2003, a day after his 44th birthday. A past student of Ferncourt High School, at the time of his death Dr. Sewell was credited with having the largest optometry practice in the province of Ontario and one of the largest in Canada.
“The unveiling of the plaque is our way of honouring Dr. Sewell for giving his time unselfishly to our group,” noted Mr. Williamson. “Dr. Sewell not only recruited all of his colleagues who have donated their time at the eye clinic, but through his influence he made it very easy for us to solicit other professionals to work in Jamaica.”