Dr. Christian Rodriguez, a chief vascular surgeon, felt the calling to give back to the island where he got his start in medicine after a recent trip to Grenada.
During his vacation—his first visit to the island in 26 years—Dr. Rodriguez learned of Grenada General Hospital’s need for a vascular surgeon and for someone to help implement a new dialysis and nephrology program.
So he decided to do something about it.
First, Dr. Rodriguez, who practices at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Maine, arranged for a substantial donation of two sets of surgical instruments and supplies from medical provider Scanlan International, valued at nearly $37,000 USD. The donation of the surgical instruments will allow the hospital to offer ongoing in-house sustainability of vascular access procedures and treatments to patients.
He also worked with the hospital’s house officers—and resident doctors—Drs. Neisha Ross, Johnathan Ramirez, and Diana Shears to create a week-long clinic (which took place October 10 to 14, 2022) where he would train hospital doctors on vascular access procedures, while also seeing patients in need of care. Vascular access is the surgical procedure by which a fistula connection is made by a surgeon allowing the removal and return of blood during dialysis.
“When I learned that Grenada General needed more support in the area of vascular surgery, I did not hesitate to offer my time, expertise as well as organizing a donation to the hospital,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “While on island, I even got to meet with my old anatomy professor, Dr. C.V. Rao (current dean of university alumni affairs). We spent some time catching up and it brought back many memories of my time in Grenada.”
Dr. Rodriguez is the first vascular specialist to provide crucial medical care to Grenadian residents as a part of the St. George’s University Physician Humanitarian Network (SGU PHuN).
“We are extremely grateful to Christian for not only answering the call but going above and beyond to gain an understanding of what may be needed and securing this incredible donation that will definitely change lives,” said SGU Vice Provost Brendon LaGrenade, MBA, EdD.
A Gratifying Experience
Seeing Grenadian patients was very gratifying, according to Dr. Rodriguez. He completed four vascular access procedures and was able to treat more than 30 patients with vein, circulation, wound and other issues.
“I spent a week seeing patients and performing surgeries in the operating theater. It was a rewarding experience,” said Dr. Rodriguez. “It felt wonderful to offer patients a service that they would not otherwise have. The patients were incredibly grateful. I feel a very strong bond with Grenada and its people.”
The training he provided to resident clinic doctors included demonstrations on how patients are assessed for surgery.
“The clinic involved examining and evaluating patients as well as evaluating which kind of arteriovenous access was most appropriate for each patient,” he said. “This depends on their arterial circulation and the size and quality of their veins. Additionally, we took advantage of the clinic space/time to see patients with other vascular surgery conditions.”
Dr. Rodriguez said it was a pleasure to work at Grenada General and it all harkens back to his time at SGU.
“It was an amazing experience and I truly feel the education I received there was top notch,” said Dr. Rodriguez, adding that any SGU alum who gets the opportunity to return to Grenada to share their gifts of physician care will find it to be an experience that equally benefits doctors, patients, and the community at large.
“If you have a chance to contribute to the well-being and health of the Grenadian people, do it. It’s an incredibly great and rewarding experience,” said Dr. Rodriguez. “I’m already making plans for a repeat visit next year.”
–Ronke Idowu Reeves