This is a teachable moment which surrounds Dr. Sam Christian’s injury and the noble efforts made by many at home and abroad to save his life.
Dr. Christian’s accident was a tragedy. However, it presents us with a unique opportunity. What is that opportunity?
Well, the opportunity resides in our people hereafter commitment ourselves to building an institutional framework focused on meritocracy and a process which exalts collaboration between Dominican health care professionals at home and abroad. We saw in the care Dr. Sam Christian received input from the Dominican doctors at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) and those overseas like Dr. Dale Dangleben of Pennsylvannia, Dr. Karen Robinson of Seattle Washington, exchanging ideas and making recommendations for the best management of Dr. Sam Christian’s injuries. The overseas doctors exchanged ideas with Dr. Thomas, Dr. George, Dr. Pascal, Dr. Shillingford-Ricketts and others to craft the best approach for Dr. Sam Christian. We must strive to make this extraordinary effort of shared competence something which is normative not simply a one of type experience to benefit one man. I think I speak for Dr. Sam Christian when I say this would be his sentiment.
That mutual respect and collaborative ethic is what spurred us to form the Dominica Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2000. The co-founder of the Dominica Academy Raglan Riviere was the former PMH hospital administrator. Indeed, Raglan may have been the first Dominican trained overseas in hospital administration. Be that as it may, we sought to unite the respective competences of Dominican health professionals at home and abroad into a coherent framework without regard to political allegiance or personal affinity. Such a professional approach affords Dominicans the best opportunity in medical care as it focuses on meritocracy – the essence of which is to select and advance those who are most competent to do the job.
The lessons that I take from Dr. Sam Christian’s treatment and his record of service in trying to promote health care and collaboration between our health professionals at home and abroad are:
- Together we do better. Government and Opposition, Dominicans at home and abroad showed a unity of purpose in securing the best available health care for Dr. Sam Christian. We want to work toward a day when all Dominicans who need care can benefit from such unity of purpose and a more efficient and effective healthcare dispensation.
- We can utilize our skills in health care from wherever it is located on the globe by working through a robust telemedicine protocol via which competences are exchanged and brought to bear on any given medical issue.
- Let meritocracy drive the medical services process – by all means limit partisanship. When one is fighting to save a life that must always be the laser-like focus.
- Organization of an annual Dominica Diaspora Medical Collaborative. Instead of simply doing an annual Creole festival focused on the musical arts, let us broaden our approach to development. Let us organize that annual medical services event where the hundreds of skilled health care professionals of Dominican heritage can conference with their local counterparts to exchange best practices. By such an effort Dominica can become a model for health care services.
We have every respect and the most profound gratitude for those who aided Dr. Sam Christian or who offered prayers and support from all sides. We desire that all Dominicans, not just Dr. Sam Christian, benefit from such a culture of caring for each other.
It is with that in mind Dr. Sam Christian wrote this article in 2002 stating his vision for Dominica’s healthcare system and efforts toward that beneficial end – https://www.thedominican.net/articles/medical.htm.
Dr. Sam Christian was of modest means because he took payment in cucumbers or yams when his patients could not pay. In his practice he placed patient care above and beyond a fee. That approach of “patient care first” endeared him to the masses and they returned that love to him over the weekend of December 1st through 2nd (2018) when his injuries laid him low. For that we give thanks
We can only ask God to bless his professional colleagues, the PMH health care workers, the many overseas Dominica health professionals and Government and Opposition folk for acting in a fashion which points a positive way forward.
May we proceed then to build that organizational capacity which we sought to effect with the Dominica Academy of Arts & Sciences. See here – http://ragriv.powweb.com/healthpage.html
In taking such a reasoned approach, we can turn a negative into a positive which benefits the national family.