Rolling clinic a long time coming!

Dear Editor, 

“Common sense ain’t common.”

It takes a hurricane, COVID-19 and a broke country to make people think.

In 1982, when I first went to the House of Assembly, I was made shadow minister of health.

At every budget debate for the 10 years I was shadow minister of health, money was being wasted on clinics in the Family Islands. The clinics cost millions and had state-of-the-art X-ray equipment installed.

The only problem was that there was nobody who knew how to operate it. They had operating theaters with no doctors to operate them. In short, they were spending millions of the people’s money for a good photo op for the politician, and then it rotted.

I suggested that the concrete clinic be replaced by a bus specially equipped to perform the duties of a clinic. I suggested that since the Americans had the most reliable telecoms network here, they be asked to let us tie into their system. We could then communicate with the hospital in Nassau.

If a person in one town complained of a pain in the chest, the specially equipped bus could go to the person’s home, hook up the patient’s vital signs and transmit them to a specialist in Nassau who would read them and diagnose the patient.

If the diagnosis was a heart attack, the specialist in Nassau would instruct the operator what to do in order to stabilize the person until arrangements could be made to fly the patient to Nassau.

If the diagnosis was that it was indigestion, the specialist in Nassau would advise the operator to give the patient two TUMS and send him home.

This would be good medicine. It would be comparatively cheap, and the patient would have the services of a specialist.

They said I was a nut case and continued spending millions of dollars on non-functional clinics. My advice was given 38 years ago.

Then came Dorian. It literally wiped out Abaco. It destroyed Dr. James Hull’s clinic. He had a choice – staying on Abaco or going back to Canada where he was born. He decided to stay and help the people.

He devised a plan. He got some donors together and bought a second-hand United Way bus.

Equipment was purchased that would be compact enough to fit on the bus and allow it to provide a wide variety of care.

He made a rolling clinic. In it is an X-Ray machine, ultrasound machine, an office, an examining room, a waiting room for seven people, an EKG machine and a lift to bring a wheelchair into the clinic. Yes, the works, and it moves! And it costs, fully equipped, less than $200,000!

With it, he services the people of Abaco from one end to the other. And when he needs a second opinion, he simply dials into a specialist in Nassau or anywhere in the world, especially his cousin, Dr. Leon Dupuch, who is an OBGN here.

Since the lockdown, and travel to the Islands was limited, Dr. Dupuch operated his clinic in Spanish Wells from his office in Nassau.

Dr. Hull is my nephew; Dr. Dupuch is my son. Am I proud of them? Yes, very proud. Am I disappointed? Yes, because it has taken 38 years and millions of dollars of the people’s money, one hurricane and a pandemic to do something that should have been done years ago.

I must say, I had nothing to do with what they have done. Common sense is common sometimes!

 Pierre V. L. Dupuch

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