Red Cross free health clinic open to all

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Volunteer doctors and translators help patients with primary healthcare services at the Henry Dunant clinic, Port of Spain. – GREVIC ALVARADO

THE Ttinidad and Tobago Red Cross Society (TTRCS) is implementing free primary care health programmes for migrants and locals through the Henry Dunant Clinic, Port of Spain.

Stephan Kishore, crisis management co-ordinator, said the TTRCS is also carrying out outreach services in communities where people cannot easily access health centres or the service is not regular.

Newsday interviewed Kishore at the clinic on April 20.

Primary healthcare includes medical consultations, diagnostic tests, blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol, BMI, HbA1C, lipid profile and urinalysis.

Diabetic or hypertensive patients are given home testing kits to monitor and report their findings to better inform their diagnoses.

A family of Venezuelan migrants arrives for a medical appointment at the Red Cross, Port of Spain on Saturday, April 20, after scheduling in advance. – GREVIC ALVARADO

“We understand vulnerable groups may not have the resources to always purchase medications.”

“The clinic was born as a solution for migrants and other vulnerable people to have access to medical care, and has always remained open to serve everyone.”

More than 90 per cent of the clinic’s patients are migrants.

“There is no selection process. The people who need the assistance receive it. If some days are oversubscribed, which usually happens at the beginning of the year, we try to offer more clinic days. We can see all the patients who apply.”

All clinic services are provided.

They also have Spanish translators available so migrants can interact more effectively with the medical staff.

“This is not a programme just for migrants. Migrants tend to have more need for healthcare services at TTRCS because they cannot access them elsewhere.”

In cases where they can access a free clinic from a local doctor’s office or religious organisation, they usually do not have translators, so they cannot communicate well.

One of the volunteer doctors and his translator care for a Venezuelan woman during a special day at the Henry Dunant clinic, Port of Spain. – GREVIC ALVARADO

“In the past, we offered the clinic to people with hearing disabilities and made sure we had sign language interpreters to support communications.”

The clinic also takes a healthy lifestyle approach in which it provides education and counselling to achieve results, based on lifestyle choices rather than relying solely on medications.

He said they are currently bringing health education to communities, in order to reduce the prevalence of non-communicable diseases and promote healthy lifestyles.

“Our disaster preparedness programmes focus on building community resilience through training and capacity building. We also work with partners, such as the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM), and the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government, to educate communities on disaster preparedness.”

TTRCS also has programmes for students in elementary and secondary schools.

“We serve more than 300 groups, known as youth links, in elementary schools and our trailblazer’s youth club in 12 high schools, and will expand to more than 40 by 2024. These youth programmes include similar content designed for the community.”

The clinic also carries out one clinical day per month in Trinidad, one day per month in Tobago, and two to three outreach activities every month.

“During the in-person clinic we see 15 to 20 patients and in extension around 50 to 75.”

However, these are days of care carried out by volunteer doctors, which prevents more days from being offered.

The TTRCS plans to expand its diagnostic capabilities by adding ultrasound and ECG tests.

On May 8, the TTRCS will be celebrating World Red Cross Day with a new day of special medical care open to everyone.