Canvasback breaks ground in RMI

Canvasback and Ebeye hospital nursing staff go over procedures for performing colonoscopies during the Canvasback team visit to Ebeye in April.

Ebeye has seen two Canvasback medical missions this year, while Majuro has two coming up later this month and in July.
Canvasback completed the first colonoscopy mission to Ebeye in early April, and followed that up with an ophthalmology (eye) visit from the end of April into early May.

Later this month, an orthopedics team will arrive in Majuro with plans to perform many knee and hip replacement operations. Next month, Canvasback will dispatch an ophthalmology team that will be focused on retinal and retinopathy surgery. People with diabetes, who make up a large portion of the RMI population, often experience damage to the retina from their illness. The doctors in both missions will be performing surgeries normally unavailable here. The colonoscopy mission at Ebeye in April “was five years in the making,” said mission organizer Jacque Spence, the Vice President of Canvasback.

A total of 57 patients received colonoscopies — for many it was their first time to receive this cancer-prevention procedure.
The colonoscopies involved training Majuro and Ebeye Doctors Fil Bondad and Peter Hasugulmal, and numerous nurses at Ebeye hospital with the guidance of the Canvasback team. Getting needed equipment donated was a major part of the behind-the-scenes work that went into organizing the mission by Canvasback, said Spence. The training was organized at the request of Ebeye hospital chief of medical staff Dr. Joaquin “Jake” Nessa, she added.

Spence said the organization is aiming to bring another gynecology (women’s health) team to Majuro in 2020, following up on a successful gynecology visit last year. Last year’s team totally changed the delivery of service for patients by bringing in the experts and equipment to process pap tests within a few hours of a patient being seen by the doctor.

In next year’s visit, the aim is to take service to the next level by processing biopsies taken by doctors on island. This means patents won’t have to wait a week or two to learn the result from an off-island laboratory. “We’ll bring a pathologist and equipment so we can do the tissue diagnosis here,” said Spence, adding they’ll leave the equipment with the hospital when the visit wraps up.

Read more about this in the June 14, 2019 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.