NY Northwell Health seeking to address health disparities in Guyana, abroad

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New York State’s largest health care provider, Northwell Health is currently in Guyana seeking, through a partnership with the Ministry of Health, to address health disparities among Guyanese locally and in New York.

After signing a five-year medical partnership with the Ministry of Health in November last year, Northwell Health has dispatched a team of medical residents to Guyana to rotate through the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).

The health care provider in a press release on Friday said the intention of sending the medical residents to Guyana is to enhance care, develop cultural understanding and train their physicians in tropical medicine.

“The partnership, aimed to address disparities in Guyana by supporting and enhancing a variety of services, also looks to address disparities here in NY by broadening cross-cultural understanding with the communities of Little Guyana in Queens – as well as surrounding neighborhoods that make up the fifth largest immigrant population in New York City,” the press release stated.

Northwell’s director of the Center for Global Health (CGH), Dr. Eric Cioe Peña, is quoted in the release as saying “addressing health equity at home also means addressing the health care needs abroad”, while noting 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. Cioe Peña, according to the press release.

The five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed after Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony invited CGH to return to Guyana to assess the interior regions of Guyana to provide a strategy to increase the welfare of the people living in the more remote areas of the country.

The CGH looks to bolster Guyana’s secondary-care system to enhance care in interior regions, the press release said.

“We’re also partnering with Northwell’s Center for Emergency Medical Services about pre-hospital transport in the jungle. When patients need to come to GPHC for complex services and imaging, they can transport them quickly and efficiently to a tertiary-level care, quickly, efficiently and safely,” Dr. Cioe Peña is quoted as saying.

“We also have to make sure we’re treating people in that secondary hospital – that generally consists of one emergency room bay and one operating room – and have those physicians’ practice at their highest level of their license,” he added.

The three week-visit also includes meetings with the President of Guyana, Irfaan Ali, to finalise the five-year strategy and discuss long-term housing needs for medical residents training in the country.

Dr. Cioe Peña noted that CGH is in “for the long haul”.

“When people hear about these initiatives, they think about a quick ‘get in and get out’ mission. Our partnership in Guyana, like our other partnerships in India and Ecuador, is about connection; that eventually, when a patient steps into a Northwell facility, there is a greater understanding of that individual and what’s important to them and their community. That’s what the core of Raise Health is about,” he is quoted as saying.

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