Interventional cardiologist Jason Finkelstein, MD ’99, has made it a priority to give back to the Grenadian community by frequently returning to the island to offer lifesaving cardiology services at no cost. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, his visits were put on hold and his patients went unseen for more than two years. Dr. Finkelstein was finally able to return to Grenada June 20-23 to resume his pro-bono services.
During his visit—his 15th since 2008—Dr. Finkelstein was able to see and treat 103 patients at the Medical Specialties Clinic in Grand Anse. Many patients were seen for the first time, while others came for follow-up visits. With the assistance of Dylan Vulcannon, a pacemaker representative from St. Jude Medical Center, Dr. Finkelstein performed urgent on patients, as well as dozens of pacemaker interrogations (checks)—an essential consultation for all patients with devices. Additionally, pacemaker changes were conducted at the General Hospital.
Dr. Finkelstein said he was especially concerned for those patients who had implanted pacemakers and cardiac defibrillators, since their devices were not checked for such a long time.
“When I returned to Grenada this year, I found that there were a few patients whose pacemaker or defibrillator batteries had run out,” said Dr. Finkelstein, who practices in Decatur, TX. “Fortunately, I was able to change out two pacemaker generators at the General Hospital on two patients and sent another to Florida for a new device. These situations make me want to come back each year to help these patients in need. I was glad to be able to accomplish so much on this trip.”
Since its inception in 2000, the Visiting Cardiology Program, under the sponsorship of St. George’s University School of Medicine, continues to provide much needed heart care for adult Grenadians free of cost to them. These visits are arranged through the SGU-Physician Humanitarian Network (SGU-PHuN), a program that enables SGU alumni and friends to aid the Ministry of Health and Government of Grenada in improving healthcare in the country.
Johansen Sylvester, MD ’00, director of the Visiting Cardiology Program, said the two clinics combined were valued at US$75,000.
“During the last 15 years, the Visiting Cardiology Program has worked closely with our valued alumni in providing the highest level of care to many that would otherwise not have received such lifesaving interventions and follow up care,” Dr. Sylvester said. “The work done by Dr. Finkelstein is an invaluable part of continued SGU alumni altruism and a genuine sense of ‘giving back’ to a people and school that has played a critical role in their professional development.”
In addition to Dr. Finkelstein, other SOM alumni and friends who have also pledged their time and expertise to the SGU PHuN program for the fall 2022 term include:
- Cardiologists – Christine Rodriguez, Rajesh Vakani, and Pravin Patil, MD ’04
- OB/GYN – Philip Lahrmann, MD ’81
- Pediatric ophthalmologist – Dr. Michael Gray
- Wound care/emergency medicine specialists – Drs. Jay Helman and Robert Helman, MD ‘97
- Grenadian-born endocrinologist – Dwight Matthias, MD ’93
- Associate alumni and ophthalmologist – Dr. Fred Lambrou
“As an experienced contributor to the cardiology team, Dr. Finkelstein adds his value as an interventionalist by seeking out both resources such as pacemakers, as well as aligning his hospital and other colleagues to provide service to Grenadians in need—even bringing them to his site when he is unable to serve them in Grenada,” stated Dr. Brendon La Grenade, vice provost for institutional advancement. “He is more than a resource that we can rely on, he is a true friend to Grenada and a treasured alumnus. We appreciate all that he’s done for us over the past 15 years.”
– Ray-Donna Peters