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SEEN UP NORTH: Health care pros honoured

Tony Best

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It’s like an article of faith.
That best describes an annual exercise of the Caribbean-American Medical and Scientific Association, CAMSA, which singles out key individuals and institutions to honour them for their outstanding contributions to society.
Founded in 2003 to foster “improvements in health care for Caribbean peoples through medical, scientific, educational and charitable activities”, CAMSA, whose first president was Dr O’Neall Parris, a prominent Barbadian paediatrician in New York City and its suburbs, has focused on the work of physicians, scientists, Caribbean immigrant community institutions and their leaders, governmental representatives, academics, communications specialists and educators.
That’s precisely what it did in Brooklyn last weekend when it held its medical, scientific and community awards gala at Glenn Terrace.
“We seek to stimulate interest in the work of people who have excelled in their profession, be it in health care, scientific research, communications, mentoring of the youth, philanthropy or advocacy,” said
Dr Ed Alleyne, a Barbadian and the current CAMSA president. “We have some very outstanding individuals and we seek to let people know what they are doing and their successes.”
But it does more than present professionals, community activists and others with awards.
Perhaps, its most successful venture is its collaboration with Kindest Hearts Foundation in the launching of a clinic in earthquake-ravaged Haiti to provide health care and other services for the people who have had more than their share of tragedies.
Led by Dr Patricia Nicholas, a former CAMSA president, the association and the foundation have forged a partnership which has gone beyond providing health care.
Nicholas, a Haitian immigrant, travels frequently from New York to her birthplace, volunteering her services and aiding victims of natural disasters, offering an array of services such as water-purification tablets and medication, food and education, and conducting a sponsorship programme for children.
That’s not all. CAMSA has joined forces with other social welfare groups to mount medical missions to Jamaica, Grenada, St Lucia and Haiti.
It has also conducted town hall meetings, seminars and other public information health care activities.
It has also linked arms with the Barbados Cancer Association USA (BACA), Inc., which Parris now heads.
That brings us back to the awards function attended by Lennox Price, Barbados’ Consul General in New York; Canon Llewellyn Armstrong; Dr Debra Brathwaite; Gail Brathwaite; Dr Morris Paul, a microbiologist and CAMSA’s president-elect; Dr Vincent Hutchinson; Sam Taitt, a professor at Kingsborough Community College, and others.
The honorees were:
• Dr Cynthia Degazon, a retired professor of nursing at Hunter College of the City University of New York. The Barbadian has done extensive research in diabetes among the elderly and has secured federal grants for a special project which has trained more than 100 young people of colour for careers in nursing.
During her career in nursing, Degazon has written several academic and professional articles for peer review nursing journals. She received Hunter’s medical and scientific award for excellence in research, teaching and mentorship.
• Dr Mathieu Eugene, a physician and a member of the New York City Council, was the first person born in Haiti to be elected to a seat at city hall. He received the CAMSA Presidential Award for outstanding service to the Caribbean immigrant community in the city.
• Dr Barbara Paul, a former CAMSA president and a federal government microbiologist involved in food and drug safety. A Jamaican, Paul has worked extensively in the field of microbiology in the Caribbean, Africa and the United States.
• Association for Aid to the Physically Challenged Children of Barbados, which has been supporting institutions in Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean and in the United States for almost 40 years.