Humanitarian Award, 2013
After completing a degree in Chemistry at Howard University, I was admitted to SUNY in 1963. I must admit that I was totally unprepared for the freezing winters and the Anatomy Lab in the basement away from all sunlight.
The friendliness of all of my classmates warmed my spirits and helped me to not notice I was the sole black individual in this Medical School. Everyone was extra kind to me and that probably explained why in my senior year they elected me President of the Student Body.
Upon graduation from SUNY, I interned in Montreal which promised a lot more snow and then journeyed back to Rochester, a warmer climate where I completed residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Cardiology.
I then returned to St. Vincent confident that I was well trained and prepared to tackle the herculean task of trying to run a hospital which catered for a population of 110.000 persons with the help of a number of nurses and lay people (we had a shortage of Medical Doctors). We successfully tried to organize treatment for diseases, some not then very familiar to me such as Beriberi, Kwashiorkor, Leprosy and Tetanus, to name a few.
We tackled everything from immunization to family planning to decentralization of the medical services with some success.
I must, however, mention that I was influenced by my exposure to work in the migrant camps of New York with one of SUNY’s Pediatrician Dr. Bergstrom when with another classmate, Bruce Gordon; we examined and vaccinated a number of children who had never seen a physician before. My stint in Cardiology exposed me to the work of yet another humanitarian Dr. Sydney Goldstein who was not only my Chief of Cardiology but my mentor and friend up to today.
My position in the community allowed me to touch the lives of many individuals and I have organized scholarships for students to primary school, high school, university and medical schools.
My most successful endeavour was the visiting specialists programme which I started some thirty years ago. I offered free accommodation in our hotel to any specialist who would volunteer to work at the hospital or clinic for free. With this programme, I attracted Specialists in almost every medical field to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The programme has since expanded in collaboration with a group from Richmond Virginia called World Pediatric Program who bring six (6) teams per year to St. Vincent and the Grenadines consulting and performing surgical procedures on patients with the added bonus that any surgery which cannot be done in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is referred to the United States of America at no cost to the patient. Of course I remain very involved in the fund raising process which allows this programme to be successful.
Eleven years ago, I was invited by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to represent her as Governor-General of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and soon after received the Knighthood. My role as Governor-General is another story too long for this brief biography.
I still remain dedicated to improving health care service in my home country St. Vincent and the Grenadines and thank all at SUNY who have equipped me with the tools for making this possible.