Published by Gleaner Online: Saturday | August 24, 2019 | 12:23 AM Ruddy Mathison/Gleaner Writer
Hundreds of students, accompanied by their parents, turned up at the Dinthill Technical High School in Linstead, St Catherine, on Thursday to access free back-to-school medical, dental, and optical checks.
The event was organised by the Florida chapter of the Dinthill Past Students’ Association.
Unlike the past three years, where the emphasis was on students who attended Dinthill and a couple of specially invited schools in Linstead, this year, the event was expanded – with a team of 72 medical and dental practitioners as well as ophthalmologists, and volunteers – to cater to high school students in and around Linstead, with some students coming from as far as Clarendon College.
“We are offering more this year with the addition of the optical team from the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Florida, who will be taking the prescription back to have the glasses made there,” Dinthill past student and organiser for the medical mission Margaret Watt-Walker toldThe Gleaner.
She lamented the lack of assistance from the Ministry of Health and Wellness in clearing the supplies and equipment at the ports. According Watt-Walker, if it wasn’t for a good Samaritan, they would not have been able to clear the items to follow through on the mission.
“It is frustrating that we are trying to give back to our country and are faced with challenges of this nature,” Watt-Walker told The Gleaner.
Despite the initial challenges, the team was able to see more than 600 students and some adults on the first day of the two-day medical mission, including 300 who received optical examinations, most of whom will be getting free prescription glasses.
Watt-Walker said that the medical team welcomed the opportunity to assist the Jamaican students and has pledged its support in future endeavours. The sentiment was endorsed by ophthalmologists Carla Osigion and Sara Grace, resident doctors at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, and primary care physician Ambar Kulshreshtha, who is attached to Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
Sophia Clarke, a parent and past student whose two sons will be attending Dinthill in September, told The Gleaner that she was grateful for the event.
“As a parent, I am happy that they continue to bring this medical mission to us. It definitely takes the burden off us. Furthermore, the medical team is very professional,” she said.
Annmarie Murphy, whose niece was seen by an ophthalmologist, was also pleased.
“My niece got her eyes examined and will be getting a pair of glasses free of cost. I am happy,” she said.