On World Sickle Cell Day, June 19th, the Sint Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) held a conference in collaboration with the Sint Maarten Sickle Cell Foundation (SSCF) in an effort to create a platform where medical professionals and patients could take part in a discussion about the Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). The theme of the meeting was “Voices of the Community”, which represents the different voices who expressed themselves through the forum.
Present at the event were members of SSCF, Dr. Cecil Cone and Dr. Golden Jackson, both long-time contributors to SSCF via the American University of the Caribbean (AUC). Together with the staff and management of SMMC, the two organizations hope to facilitate change to the treatment of individuals with the disease both inside and outside of the hospital’s doors.
The event opened with an introductory speech by SSCF Board member Leona Marlin-Romeo and a speech by SMMC Medical Director Dr. Felix Holiday. Thereafter, Dr. Cone gave a short lecture about the disorder. He spoke about the hereditary nature of the condition and the scientific aspects of Sickle Cell Anemia.
Following his presentation several individuals, who have been struggling with the disease, spoke about their experiences and what changes they hope to see in treatments and handling. Staff members of the medical center also discussed their current procedures, to bring light to the experiences of medical staff who deal with treating Sickle Cell patients during crisis. Both sides were given the opportunity to openly discuss the possibilities of positive change through constructive dialogue.
The objective of the conference is a long-term collaboration. The initiative was a jump start to improving healthcare on Sint Maarten. However, the change will require feasible step-by-step efforts with multiple stakeholders getting involved.
Both organizations look forward to future. As Dr. Holiday expressed “going forward this should be the approach, where the different stakeholders come together and take initiatives like this.” And as Mrs. Marlin-Romeo also stated, “Sickle Cell Disease won’t ever go away, it is genetic. The more information and awareness received, the more we can save a life. This initiative today is one that the foundation feels is essential and fits into our objectives as this platform created by the SMMC where doctors, nurses and patients can take part in a discussion about the disease, is just epic.”