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By Levell Williams, Administrative Intern, Content Strategy

As part of a partnership with the Caribbean nation of Jamaica, Hartford HealthCare has donated desperately needed medical supplies to hospitals there, including oxygen concentrators and other equipment to help fight COVID-19.

This week, during a visit from a delegation of Jamaican government dignitaries, discussion turned to another badly needed healthcare essential – nurses – and how HHC and others can help by providing opportunities for nurses here and in Jamaica with training and clinical exchange programs.

One reason for Jamaica’s nursing shortage is the emigration of nurses to areas including Connecticut, where 7.1% of the population – more than 37,000 people — were born in Jamaica, according to 2019 statistics.

One of them is Keith Grant, APRN, HHC’s Senior System Director for Infection Prevention. He has been instrumental in forging Hartford HealthCare’s partnership with the Jamaican Ministry of Health and Wellness.

The ministry is determined to draw from members of the Jamaican diaspora to address the nation’s nursing shortage, which has recently caused a surgery backlog in Jamaica. In response, the ministry designed a new initiative, Project CODE CARE (PCC), to be launched in July 2022, to recruit nurses from around the world.

Nurses for PCC would be recruited from countries with significant populations of Jamaican immigrants, including the U.S. Recruits would work on nursing missions in Jamaica for one to two weeks, before returning to their country of origin. Nurses could receive vacation time, in addition to per-diem payment and benefits, such as insurance coverage while in Jamaica, according to the plan.

During the visit, members of the Jamaican delegation toured HHC’s Center for Education, Simulation, and Innovation (CESI), to see an array of technology that gives HHC the ability to train healthcare professionals around the world.

On the tour, the leaders witnessed a real-time, live-streamed, high-definition video of a surgery in progress. They also viewed life-like medical mannequins used to train students and visited the Bone and Joint Institute and the Cancer Center at Hartford Hospital.

The delegation also discussed the possibility of incorporating HHC video surgery broadcasts into Jamaican medical student surgical training.

But Grant said Hartford HealthCare’s relationship with Jamaica is not a one-way street. In addition to providing needed resources to the island nation, the HHC-Jamaica relationship can also benefit HHC and members of the Jamaican community we care for.

“We have an opportunity to look at epidemiology data [from Jamaican health systems to] impact how we care for Jamaicans that are here,” said Grant. “It’s using data to drive medicine, and the best place to get it is the source.”