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SEEN UP NORTH: Medics on a mission

Tony Best

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Gaining from its more than a decade of experience and existence in New York, the Caribbean American Medical & Scientific Association (CAMSA) is always searching for new ways to live up to its mission.
That mission is to “address significant health problems and concerns of Caribbean peoples through appropriate research and the development and implementation of culturally based solutions”.
And to get the job done, CAMSA, which is led by Barbadian rehabilitation specialist in Brooklyn Dr Deborah Brathwaite, links arms with a plethora of like-minded Caribbean and American bodies that serve the Caribbean immigrant community in the United States.
Just as important, it extends its reach by mounting medical missions into the archipelago of Caribbean nations or by supporting similar undertakings by teams of Caribbean doctors, nurses and other health care professionals in the city.
“Over the past 11 years we have partnered with many Caribbean organizations in our quest to execute our mission,” said Brathwaite, of Kingsbrook Medical Centre. “We have engaged in health missions, health education, health fairs and consultation. Our recent mission was to St Lucia.”
For example, it has partnered with the Caribbean American Outreach Association, Millennium Sistahs and the Barbados Cancer Association (BACA) in New York and it is reaching out to the Caribbean Consular Corps, the group of Caricom representations in New York whose chairman is Julian Du Bois, St Lucia’s Consul General.
Just recently, a CAMSA delegation met with the consuls general and discussed how they could work together in the US and the Caribbean to provide care or assist the countries or national groups in the city interested in boosting the delivery of health care.
“It was a fruitful meeting and we are already exploring specific projects in the US and the Caribbean region itself,” explained Dr Vincent Hutchinson, a Barbadian paediatrician who worked for years at Harlem Hospital medical centre in Manhattan and is a vice-president of CAMSA.
To finance its activities, such as a scholarship programme that helps needy students meet their tuition and other expenses, CAMSA raises funds through lunches and dinners. One such activity was the organization’s recent annual luncheon gala at Antun’s, a catering centre in Queens.
US Congressman Gregory Meeks, who has thousands of Bajans and other West Indians as constituents in southeast Queens, told guests that President Barack Obama’s comprehensive health care initiative, Obamacare, was making a substantial difference. It was opening up health insurance and service to people who otherwise couldn’t afford it, he said.
Focusing on immigration reform, he said he was confident the House of Representatives and the Senate would approve the reform measure, but he urged the West Indians to be vigilant and “let your voices be heard on Capitol Hill”.
“The diversity visa programme which allows 24 000 people from the Caribbean and Africa to enter the country every year is in danger of being eliminated if the reform proposals are passed in their current form, and we shouldn’t allow that to happen,” Meeks said.
Yvonne Graham, a New York State associate commissioner of health, received the CAMSA Presidential Award for helping to expand access to care.
The Young Barbadian Professional Society, a thriving Barbadian group led by Renee Cutting, received the CAMSA Community Award for using cultural awareness, mentorship and community outreach to enhance people’s lives.
Dr Joseph Radix, a dentist and leading community advocate in the city, received the Medical And Community Award. He is the husband of New York Appeals court judge, Barbadian Sylvia Hinds-Radix.
The association presented scholarships to Alianne A. Brathwaite, a student of Barbadian background who is at Holyoke College; Cassandra Louis, a Haitian at the State University of New York at Geneseo, and Emma Donahue, a Trinidadian who attends the University of South Florida.