A multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art skills laboratory was officially opened at the University of the West Indies today. The facility was established by the Department of Surgery at the UWI, Mona, in collaboration with the CHASE Fund and the Medical Alumni of North America.
The CHASE Carnegie Skills Laboratory will assist medical students and residents in acquiring skills through the use of patient models, surgical simulators, cadavers andanaesthetized, small animal models in a modern state of the art setting. The lab will also enable distance teaching and videoconferencing.
In addition to bearing CHASE’s name, the laboratory, which is the first of its kind in the Caribbean, is also named in memory of Dr. Alfred Carnegie, one of Jamaica’s most outstanding surgeons of the twentieth century.
Head of the Department of Surgery, Radiology, Anaesthesia and Intensive Care/Accident and Emergency Medicine, Professor Ivor Crandon, explains that since the University was established 60 years ago, the class of medical students has grown from an initial class of 30 to approximately 300 each year.
“The dramatic increase in student intake, new rules governing the working hours of students, interns and post-graduate surgical residents and a growing awareness of patients’ rights, have significantly restricted opportunities for practical exposure to clinical skills,” Prof. Crandon said.
The cutting-edge laboratory, which was established with the help of a J$25 million grant from the CHASE Fund, has a classroom with teleconferencing equipment to facilitate communication with other training campuses in Jamaica and overseas. Other features include a microsurgical training room and four teaching stations.
Professor Crandon said a section of the lab will also be devoted to laparoscopic surgery, which involves the use of telescopes, and this will help students to master both the surgical techniques and manipulation of the equipment.
W. Billy Heaven, Chief Executive Officer of the CHASE Fund expressed satisfaction that his organisation’s investment would improve exposure for medical students and residents, allowing them to perfect their surgical skills without any risk to patients.
“We had to become a partner in this endeavour…the Fund’s ultimate objective is to build human capital, enhance technology, and strengthen the capacity of institutions like the UWI which serve the developmental needs of people,” the CEO pointed out.