Hospital board seeks to decrease waiting time for eye care patients

Nicole Laville

With the recent commissioning of the modernized Brenda Strafford Eye Centre at the Dominica China Friendship Hospital (DCFH), The Dominica Hospital Authority is committing to managing and wrestling down the waiting times for patients who seek appointments and routine eye care.

According to Mrs Nicole Laville, the Officer-in-Charge at the office of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Dominica Hospital Authority, the board has received numerous complaints about the long delays for appointments and elective surgeries in particular, from the most vulnerable, the elderly citizens.

Therefore,  the office of the CEO intends to propose to the board that effective  June 1, 2022, there will be a moratorium on all private elective admissions for the next three months.

“During this time, we’ll use the full capacity of the department towards reducing the waiting times for appointments and reduce the waiting list for elective surgeries, especially cataract surgeries,” Laville reported at the commissioning of the new facility late last week.

She continued, “We want to reassess all patients on the merits of needing and not ability to pay, in particular, the elderly and emergency cases. All patients who are now awaiting a date for eye surgery, are asked to make an appointment for reassessment in order to secure a appointed date on when surgery will become available.”

In January of this year, China made a donation of medical eye equipment valued at close to ECE $80,000. In addition to this donation, the country has provided medical expertise to the hospital in a number of specialised areas of medicine, including cardiology, oncology, urology, and ophthalmology.

During this event, the  government of Dominica signed off a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which supports the provision of specialized eye care equipment valued at US $445,000 with the Brenda Strafford Foundation in order to formalise a relationship for the provision of state of the art and evidence-based ophthalmology services to the citizens of Dominica.

Laville indicated that much has been given by the various partners in  making the eye centre “one of the best, if not the best facility in the region,” therefore, much is now expected from the department.

She said a commitment must be made to provide timely access to treatments and interventions of specialized eye care by a team of highly trained and experienced ophthalmologists supported by technicians, technologies and support staff.

“The time has come for us to leverage this capacity to provide a full suite of eye services which include refractions, visual field examinations, eye screening, school health, and post operative care to name a few,” Laviile stated.

With  cataracts and diabetic retinopathy accounting  for at least  65% of eye disorders, the hospital administrator stressed the need to focus early attention on cataract surgery.

“We can significantly reduce the avoidable blindness to our populations. This is not an impossible task, given that we now have three ophthalmologists on staff and a dedicated eye theatre which can run for six days per week,” she stated. “So in short, we intend for better days to come for  patients who are awaiting eye surgery.”

Laville further revealed that  last year, the eye department collaborated with researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in a landmark research study which successfully validated the use of artificial intelligence as a viable screening tool for diagnosing diabetic retinopathy, a common eye problem in patients with diabetes.

She said more needs to be done to put the results of this research into action through artificial intelligence.

“The  department must immediately take steps to expand access to early detection and diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy in our diabetic population through an expanded screening program,” Laville noted.

According to the DCFH official, through the full optimization of this screening technology, patients across all health districts can be diagnosed and treated earlier, hence mitigating avoidable blindness. In this regard, within the next few weeks the eye department will work collaboratively with the Ministry of Health to roll out an aggressive and expanded screening program for diabetic retinopathy across all health districts.

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  1. If we knew better
    May 20, 2022

    So, what does Cassani’s wife know about how to run a hospital? She is an engineer. How did she end up being the Officer-in-Charge at the office of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Dominica Hospital Authority.

    Then times anybody can be anything in Dominica man? Whether they are experienced/ qualified or not, once you are politically aligned the sky in the limit.

    • Whatevs
      May 31, 2022

      Have you seen her resume to know what her qualifications are? You are falling in the same trap that you criticize. If she was not Cassani’s wife, you would not say anything and just keep it moving. I know this woman and she is very well educated with managerial experience.

  2. Teddy
    May 17, 2022

    Why don’t we employ more eye specialist, problem solved. Why don’t we allow the many eye specialist from UK and USA who want to do voluntary service to practice in Dominica, problem solved. These are the questions that we should be asking dr ricketts, am sure she has the answers to this, or is she part of the said issues. I remember years ago when cuba was giving free eye operations in cuba she was looking a lot meg in those days .GP lost of money

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