The Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) in Guyana, will get a medical boost from residents of Northwell Health University Hospital on Staten Island, whose medical personnel arrived in the country recently to augment care, and forge cultural ties, while training physicians in tropical medicine, according to the hospital’s website.
The Ministry of Health in Georgetown recently, welcomed the team of residents to discuss and finalize a five-year strategy and to discuss long-term housing needs for medical residents training in the country.
The report said, “the partnership, aims to address disparities in Guyana by supporting and enhancing a variety of services, and also looks to address disparities here in New York by broadening cross-cultural understanding with the communities of Little Guyana in Queens — as well as surrounding neighborhoods that makeup the fifth largest immigrant population in New York City.”
“Addressing health equity at home also means addressing the health care needs abroad,” said Eric Cieo Peña, MD, Northwell’s director of the Center for Global Health (CGH) who explained that “medical education is also about understanding your patients, their culture and value systems.”
“All of this comes with trust and showing our surrounding communities that have become increasingly diverse, that Northwell understands their cultural needs and what’s important to them. This partnership is a win-win by strengthening Guyana’s health system and secondly, strengthening Northwell’s relationship with the people of Guyana and Little Guyana,” said Dr. Peña.
Guyanese in the Diaspora, excited about the medical news, shared a video of a news report on Pix 11, on social media platforms, where Dr. Peña explained that doctors want to help immigrant communities in New York, “that is one of the reasons they were heading to Guyana.”
“How do I communicate with a community that has been disenfranchised, that haven’t been target for vaccination campaign or COVID testing campaign, all the things we see as discrepancies, and disparities right now,” said the health professional.
“We are learning, and they are learning, we are just trying to help each other’s growing development,” said Dr. Peña, director of global health at Northwell system, and an emergency physician on Staten Island.
“Because we are so proximal to the Guyanese population in Queens and taking care of an enormous patient population of Guyanese-Americans we see it as a multi-prong approach,” he said, adding “that is why going there to understand how their health problems begin is important.”
Dr. Peña, while being interviewed by Guyanese-heritage reporter, Jennifer Bisram, shared, “there are things that communities are genetically, or pre-disposed to things such as elevated rates of cardiac disease found in West Indian Americans. We see elevated rates of suicidality and mental health issues. We are seeing problems that may have started in Guyana like prenatal care and end up in Long Island,” said the physician.
The doctor argues that Guyana has an enormous burden of non-communicable diseases, such as strokes and car accidents, as such, the team of over a dozen health professionals will also help Guyana rebuild its healthcare system.
“Their ability to deliver primary care on a shoestring is incredible, and I think every US physician should go down and see how family medicine doctors deliver care in clinics in Guyana,” he encouraged.
The team that visited the GPHC in November 2021 to meet with health officials, Dr. Peña said came from Northwell’s six departments. They include psychology, pediatrics, phytology, OBGYN, and family medicine. The doctors will be on rotation over the next five years.
The medical team will be visiting all 10 administrative regions of Guyana as they learn tropical medicine and broaden their cross-cultural understanding to address disparities in New York city, they are also hoping to build better trust with their patients and their patients’ families, said Dr. Pena, via the news video.