Public urged to assist University of Virginia students with health surveys

(L-R) Health Planner in the Ministry of Health on Nevis Mrs. Nicole Slack-Liburd and Professor of Emergency Medicine and Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity at the University of Virginia Professor Marcus Martin

NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (June 12, 2012) — Health Planner in the Ministry of Health on Nevis Mrs. Nicole Slack-Liburd urged members of the public to participate in two health related surveys being conducted on Nevis till the end of June by the University of Virginia students in collaboration with the St. Kitts and Nevis Ministry of Health.

In a press briefing at the Ministry of Finance’s conference room on June 08, 2012, Mrs. Liburd accompanied by the researchers led by Professor of Emergency Medicine and Vice President and Chief for Diversity and Equity at the University Dr. Marcus Martin, said the survey’s findings would assist health authorities on the island to better plan for greater effectiveness of the public health system.

“This project is a two-part research project that we will be embarking on over the next month or so. They will both deal with public health care utilisation. One dealing with women’s health specifically pregnant women and women who have recently delivered and another study dealing in general with public health care utilisation.

“We want to record our thanks in advance for this very critical survey which would undoubtedly impact our planning here at the Ministry of Health and we welcome future and continued partnership with the University of Virginia. So far roughly 80 surveys have been conducted in the Federation all of them in St. Kitts at this point. There are a total of 500 targeted and over 100 of those will be surveys conducted in Nevis,” she said.

Mrs. Slack-Liburd noted that the researchers would likely be encountered at health centres, public markets, ports and at senior citizens programmes.

“We want you to give them your full support because it takes everyone, not just the health system to impact change in the health system. So your contribution is valuable to us.

“We think that the questions are very interesting and very relevant and address some of the current issues and discussions taking place in the population right now including that of national health insurance. So we solicit all your support and all of your participation and thank you in advance for taking an active role in the delivery of your health care,” she said.

According to the Health Planner, over the years Nevis and St. Kitts had partnered with the University of Virginia in various areas of health among them emergency management, medical supplies for the Alexandra Hospital and also in the area of disaster management. She said the exchange of knowledge had become a mutually beneficial relationship.

Meantime, Professor Martin explained that over the past five years he had lead groups of pre medicine students who were learning about health care and disaster preparedness from the University of Virginia to St. Kitts and Nevis. They came from the January term. They were recipients of a grant from the Centre for Global Health and the Jefferson Public Citizen Programme at the University.

Mr. Martin gave the reasoning behind the student’s studies in St. Kitts and Nevis.

“The purpose of the research opportunity for pre medical students…is to enhance their capacity to deliver a public service and to add a research component with it as well…

“We hope that ultimately we will find out information about attitudes, belief, the experiences, knowledge and the utilisation of community health centres with the goal to deliver information to the Ministry of Health about how to provide more effective utilisation at the community health centres for all of its citizens,’ he said.

Research students from the University of Virginia with (first row extreme left) Faculty member at the Virginia School of Nursing and member of the School’s Dissertation Committee Ms. Audrey Snyder. (Back row extreme left) Team leader and Professor of Emergency Medicine; Vice President and Chief for Diversity and Equity at the University Dr. Marcus Martin (front row second from right) Health Planner in the Ministry of Health on Nevis Mrs. Nicole Slack-Liburd and (back row extreme right) PhD student of the University of Virginia, School of Nursing Ms. Jamela Martin at the Ministry of Health’s Conference, Nevis Island Administration Building in Charlestown

The team Leader further explained that at the end of the one month stay in the Federation conducting the surveys, the students would return to Virginia and within the ensuing six months analyse the data which they would produce for the Ministry of Health. Dependent on the results he said there may be need for further studies to be developed in the future.

While he thanked Chief Medical Officer in St. Kitts and Nevis Dr. Patrick Martin of the Ministry of Health for his collaboration and the University for its collaboration with St. Kitts and Nevis and the approval received from the University’s Institutional Review Board’s approval which sanctioned the surveys, Professor Martin also urged members of the public to assist. He said the greater the participation the more sound the data received would be.

“The students overall would like to understand utilisation trends better of the community health centres as well as the emergency department and provide that information to the Ministry of Health, so that more effective planning can take place related to the services that are offered and that’s the ultimate goal.

“You will see the students around St. Kitts and Nevis throughout the month of June and they will approach you but you don’t have to but the more folks we can get participating, the more powerful the study the more powerful the data,” he said.

According to the students, the survey pertaining to the public health care utilisation survey constitutes 44 questions and will take 10-15 minutes to complete. It is an anonymous survey and participant’s names will not be linked.

“Participants will be compensated after completing the survey with US$5.00. The surveys are not linked to the participant’s name and are confidential. The survey contains questions about personal health and use of the health system and beliefs about the health system.

“We are hoping to collect about 500 surveys which should be about one percent of the population which would really give good data to the Ministry of Health,” they said.

The second project designed by Professor Martin’s daughter Ms. Jamela Martin who is a PhD student of the University of Virginia, School of Nursing is related to the experience of women with pregnancy.

She explained the section of the population she was targeting for her survey and they too would be compensated for their time.

“I am recruiting women ages 18 and older who have recently delivered a baby over the last year or are currently pregnant to speak with me for about an hour about their experiences with pregnancy and delivery and the use of community health centres and the use of private physicians offices.

“For their time they will be compensated with US$20 or the equivalent in EC to speak with me on tape about their experiences,” she said.

Ms. Martin is also assisting the junior researchers is supported by Ms. Audrey Snyder a faculty member at the Virginia School of Nursing. She is also a member of the School’s Dissertation Committee.

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