St Joseph Mercy brings smiles through facial surgeries
Stabroek News
November 12, 2006

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St. Joseph Mercy Hospital has given smiles to children and adults with cleft lip, palate and cysts and restored their self-esteem through its two-year Wishbone project.

According to the 2005-2006 Wishbone Annual Report released last month, at the end of September 2006, 26 cleft lips and 25 cleft palates surgeries were completed.

Over a year ago St. Joseph began its surgeries and continues to bring smiles to many families.

Chief Executive Officer Sr. Sheila Walsh in her Annual Report message noted that: "We have expanded from repairing cleft lips and palates to include children and young adults with facial cysts, tumors, fractured cheek bones and other facial deformities.

To this end 23 other surgeries including children with facial or neck tumours or cysts; fractured cheek bones; deformed ears; lips and noses were conducted up to September. Adults and children ranging from six months to 25 years benefited from the total 78 surgeries for the period under review.

St. Joseph Mercy Hospital bears the cost of the surgeries and monies from donations are used to offset transportation by boat or mini-bus. The report noted that: "Some children are just babies and do not know they look different but once they attend school it becomes very clear, (knowing) very early that they look and talk 'funny'. Even the small babies have issues with feeding €¦ and parents who are reluctant to take them out."

A cleft lip is a cut or separation of the upper lip that can extend into the nose and a cleft palate is when the roof of the mouth doesn't grow together properly, according to the report. This year St. Joseph Mercy also marked the 10th anniversary of its Mobile Clinic initiated by Sr. Teresa Finnegan, a Sister of Mercy, and former administrator of Mercy Hospital. The caravan travels weekly to four different sites located in poor areas in and around Georgetown.

The mobile health team consists of a doctor, nurse, clerk, pharmacy, lab and ECG technicians, in addition to a social worker. Each year, about 2000 visits are made. The patients are mainly people suffering from chronic illnesses and have little or no income. The Mobile Clinic is supported entirely by donations, said the hospital report.

There is also a Stemming the Tide/AIDS Relief programme, both funded by the Catholic Relief Services; grants from Guyana Medical Relief; Mercy Action and individual donors and the programme offers free care and treatment to people living with HIV/AIDS. It began in 2004 and to date over 650 people have enrolled. Of those enrolled 50% are women, 35% men and 15% children from newborn to age 15.

"HIV/AIDS is at a crisis level in Guyana and we at Mercy are proud to be doing our part to assist people living with HIV/AIDS while the whole world searches for a cure," stated the report.

Persons desirous of giving donations can do so at the hospital located at 130-132 Parade Street or at Guyana Mission Fund, 625 Abbott Road, Buffalo, NY 14220.

Local supporters include Pressy Enterprise Photo Studio; John Fernandes Ltd; U Mobile - Cel Star; Courts and the Diplomatic Spouses Association. Foreign supporters include St. Edward Confessor Parish; Dr. Karen Schneider, RSM and friends; Hope Wall and friends; For Family Foundation; M/M Frank Ciminelli; The Smile Train and many others.