The head of this country’s military says it is not only concerned with boots and bullets, but in serving the specialist medical needs of Barbados and even the region.
Chief of Staff of the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) Colonel Alvin Quintyne told reporters at the end of a tour of its medical facilities this morning, that the BDF was in the process of reviving its operating theatre, either for private sector leasing or use by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).
“Over the years the facility has fallen into disuse from the standpoint of not being able to maintain the resources there.
“We have put a plan together which would have been discussed at our parent ministry level, but the issue clearly is one of funding,” Colonel Quintyne added.
The Chief of Staff also revealed that the BDF was currently offering specialist treatment at its medical centre through its hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO) or decompression chamber, to patients not only in Barbados, but regionally and globally.
Senior operator for the HBO chamber Major David Binks explained that hyperbaric therapy involves breathing pure oxygen into a pressurized room. It is a well-established treatment for decompression sickness, a hazard of scuba diving. Other conditions treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy include serious infections, bubbles of air in the blood vessels and wounds that would not heal as a result of diabetes or radiation injury.
Major Binks said these were the services offered by the BDF and although patients were referred from the QEH, most of them were sent from private medical practitioners.
He said that 50 per cent of the patients were from Barbados and the remainder from around the world. Since the chamber’s establishment in 1985, it has treated 376 diving accident patients.
According to statistics provided by the army, 95 were from Barbados, 94 from the United States, 49 from the United Kingdom, 58 from St Vincent and the Grenadines, 31 from Grenada and the remainder spread across such Caribbean nations as Trinidad, St Lucia, Dominica and Antigua and European states such as Belgium, Norway, Germany and Italy.
The Chief of Staff said he would like to see more local doctors exposed to training in the area of specialist medical treatment so that the wider community could benefit.
He said the HBO service to those in and outside of the region would continue.
“We are a tourist destination . . . individuals are involved in dives and that is just one way in which we contribute towards ensuring that our visitors from distant lands are just as well served as our local people,” said Colonel Quintyne.
“I want to commit our support to whatever may have to be done in the interest of the people of Barbados because I believe our roles and responsibilities go beyond guns, bullets and boots. We have to put down the guns and the bullets and take up stretchers and whatever else we have to take up as it relates to the health of the nation.
“You can be assured that the Defence Force under my command or any other command that may come hereafter, shall be ready willing and able to respond to the call of the political directorate.”