With the overwhelming focus globally, on COVID-19 and its accompanying dangers and restrictions, one sometimes wonders whether normal medical practice in Dominica is in a hiatus as a result of this deadly contagion. So, when a DNO team visited the Dominica China Friendship Hospital recently to pursue our “Thank you” article on frontline health workers engaged in the COVID war, they were delighted to find one of Dominica’s top orthopaedic surgeons, Dr Julian De Armas, hard at work. Dr De Armas is not directly involved in the frontline fight against the coronavirus but he conscientiously continues to provide orthopaedic care to his numerous patients – something he has done for more than two decades. DNO grabbed the opportunity to talk to Dr De Armas about the effect of the novel coronavirus on his practice and in the process, learned something more about the man himself.
Dr Julian De Armas is an Orthopaedic Consultant and the Head of the Department of Surgery at the Dominica-China Friendship Hospital (formerly the Princess Margaret Hospital), our main hospital in Dominica.
Dr De Armas (Dr Julian, as he is known to all his patients, and in Dominica generally) has resided in Dominica for more than 20 years. “I love this country. We have everything here”. This is a beautiful country. Beautiful people”. He beamed when our reporter suggested he is “Dominican”. He stated with conviction “we Cubans and Dominicans. We are brothers and sisters”. You could almost see his chest rise – he was clearly delighted at the thought of being considered a Dominican – a sense of belonging and acceptance.
Speaking with Dr Julian, it is clear that he is very much “in love with Dominica and its people”.
Dr Julian did part of his medical training in Europe but he says “I did not like it. It was very cold and made me depressed. I came to Dominica and I said this is where I want to be”.
It quickly became apparent during our chat with him, that Dr Julian is very caring and empathic and takes great pride in his work. A doctor who champions his patients’ interests. He treats each patient as an individual and ensures he meets the expectations and the individual needs of his patients. He told our DNO reporter “all my patients have my number”.
We spoke with some of Dr Julian’s patients. Some purred as they recounted how good Dr Julian had been to them. Some recalled, with delight, that he’d even been to see them at home after they were discharged. “Dr Julian. Look a nice man”, “a good doctor”, “I was in so much pain; he fixed my knee”.
There is no doubt that Dr Julian is loved by his patients and that he has made a significant contribution in the field of trauma and orthopaedic surgery in Dominica.
Dr Julian continues to have consultations in his private practice and it was noticeable, whilst we were there, that patient appointments are being staggered to comply with social distancing – only one patient in the waiting room at a time. We were impressed.
Dr Julian deserves our deepest gratitude and admiration and DNO, on behalf of his patients and the people of Dominica want him to know just how he is loved and appreciated. In the field of orthopaedic medicine, Dr Julian is a household name in Dominica.
We asked Dr Julian to about the impact that COVID-19 has had on his work at the hospital and in his private practice. A recording of his interview is attached to this article.
A very informative interview dealing with various issues including the suspension of surgery for all elective cases (elective surgery is surgery that is planned as opposed to surgery carried out in an emergency), concern for his patients who, he said, are suffering but there is little or nothing that he and his team can do right now.
“The impact of COVID-19 on these procedures is enormous,” Dr Julian said. He talked about some patients who are currently suffering from chronic epicondylitis (a painful inflammation of tendons surrounding an epicondyle).
Dr Julian confirmed that emergency surgeries are still taking place. However, he bemoaned the situation in which, according to him, no one is donating blood.
“People are reluctant to come to the hospital to donate blood. This is having an impact on surgical procedures. If you do not have blood then the procedure cannot go ahead,” Dr. Julian lamented.
In the interview, he also expresses his view on what he thought the impact of COVID-19 would be in Dominica and how impressed he is with the outcome as well as his thoughts on why Cuba has been so successful in dealing with COVID-19.