Intercolleague work visits and team- building retreat of MHC team St. Eustatius & team Saba

01 mei 2018

On Wednesday March 21, 2018 the teams of Saba & St. Eustatius finally experienced their long awaited and well deserved field trip to our neighboring island of St. Kitts. After just a short flight from St. Eustatius airport to the Robert L. Bradshaw international airport we arrived on St. Kitts. The view from the plane already gave away some of the beauties the island has in store for us.

After we checked in at our downtown Basseterre Hotel we prepared for the first scheduled work visits.

Wednesday March 21, 2018

Community psychiatric team

Our first work visit of our trip was with the community psychiatric team in Basseterre.  The community psychiatric team is run by coordinator and community nurse Sister Cheryl Amory Isaac and her two colleagues. They are responsible for almost all outpatient and chronic care on the island. Taken that in consideration and knowing there are approximately 40000 inhabitants we can consider ourselves lucky with almost just as much staff members and not even having to deal with approximately 15 %  of that amount of people. Like on our islands all varieties of mental illnesses are present making the job of our colleagues very challenging, especially on this scale. The team relies very much on the psychiatric ward of the hospital to be able to intervene in acute crisis situations. Despite these challenges the team appears to be very determined in their approach which is based on years of experience in the field.

Hospital Psychological Service and short tour of the hospital psychiatric ward/ Joseph N. France Hospital

For our second work visit of the day we headed to the Joseph N. France Hospital which is also situated in Basseterre. Dr. Cherrilyn Crawford, Clinical Psychologist, is the head of the Hospital Psychological services. The Joseph N. France hospital is the main general hospital on the island of St. Kitts. Besides Dr. Crawford there are more psychologists and counselors available to offer their services. Services have an emphasis on policlinic care, but also people admitted at the hospital can benefit from the care offer of the highly educated and experienced team. A wide variety of treatment is offered like CBT, DBT, family therapy, general counseling and social services. Services are provided to patients with fairly mild mental health problems to more complex and chronic mental health disorders.

After the meet and greet with the hospital psychological team we were offered a short tour of the psychiatric ward, which is also inside of the premises of the hospital. The psychiatric ward has a capacity of roughly 12 beds and 2 isolation rooms. Due to the scale of St. Kitts the ward obviously is full most of the time. Meaning crisis management can be difficult to deal with. But thanks to the hard working health care professionals on site patients get all the required care they need.

Thursday March 22, 2018

On our second and last day of activities we had one scheduled work visit in the afternoon, so in the morning we were able to relax ourselves by attending a tour of the beautiful island of St. Kitts by train. The St. Kitts Scenic Railway took us on a 3-hour tour that makes a 30-mile circle around the beautiful Eastern Caribbean island of St. Kitts, with 18 miles by narrow gauge train and 12 miles on sightseeing buses. The railway was built between 1912 and 1926 to transport sugar cane from the island’s sugar plantations to the sugar factory in the capital city of Basseterre. On this beautiful morning the “Last Railway in the West Indies” provided us with an unsurpassed opportunity to experience the scenery and culture of the unspoiled island of St. Kitts.

After the beautiful island tour in the morning, and after another delicious lunch we visited the St. Kitts Mental Health Day Treatment Centre (SKMHDTC)/ Dr. Arthur W. L. Lake Centre in the afternoon. The treatment centre is situated just outside the city center of Basseterre and supposed to be fairly new.

And new it is indeed! The centre is beautifully developed serving patients with addiction problems and mental illnesses, mostly chronically. After being accepted as a patient people are able to spend their days at the facility and can attend all sorts of activities like sports, gardening, devotion, group therapy, individual therapy, arts/ crafts etc. The facility has a strong aim on rehabilitation and even serve as an important intermediate for patients who were discharged recently from the psychiatric ward of the hospital to monitor and guide the process of rehabilitation. The head of the treatment centre is Dr. Sharon Archibald. She as a General Physician is very much aware of the needs of these patients and can use her experience to endorse and encourage her already very determined and qualified staff members to make sure the patients get the care and support they deserve.

After the work visit to the day treatment centre it was time for all of us to prepare for our return to St. Eustatius the next day. Overall we can conclude the work visits and team building retreat was a success. We had a great experience in the mental health services on St. Kitts and even had the opportunity to experience the beautiful island in-between visits.

MHC St. Eustatius and Saba would first of all like to thank our own Miss Joan van Heyningen for doing a tremendous, and sometimes very hard job on the part of organization. Well done Joan!

We also would like to say a big thank you to all the colleagues of St. Kitts we were able to meet during all the work visits. If around on our islands don’t hesitate to reach out. We saw very determined and highly qualified mental health care professionals with great dedication for their patients. Keep up the good job guys!

And last but not least we would like to thank Miss Zahra Jacobs. Miss Zahra is currently the Chairlady of the St. Kitts Mental Health Association and besides that a Master in clinical psychology. She deserves all the credits. She did a wonderful job by accommodating and directing us to the right persons for us to be able to have this great experience in the St. Kitts mental health services. Thank you very much Zahra!

MHC Team Saba & St. Eustatius