The Paediatric Ward of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) is poised to be further strengthened in its response to sickle cell anaemia and thalassaemia, with the return of Senior Registrar, Dr. Sherelyn Stanton to the institution, her successful completion of a Commonwealth Professional Fellowship in London, United Kingdom.
The Fellowship was made possible through the Association of Guyanese Nurses and Allied Professionals (AGNAP) in the UK, and focused on the identification and management of sickle cell anaemia and thalassemia.
Dr. Stanton has responsibility for Cancer, Sickle Cell and Thalassamia. She directs, supervises, and evaluates work activities of medical personnel of the Paediatric Medicine Department. She is also responsible for teaching medical students, nursing students, residents and other junior staff about pertinent Paediatric topics. She conducts examinations with the medical students and ensures that service on the various wards and clinics are maintained by co-ordinating the activities of the staff present in the Department.
Over the last two years, she has functioned in the following capacities:
* Senior Registrar at the Paediatric Medicine Ward
* The Primary physician for patients admitted to the Paediatric ward with Haematologic/ Oncologic issues
* Primary physician responsible for conducting the Paediatric Medicine Chronic Disease Haematology and Oncology clinics among other things.
She has responsibility for directing, and evaluating work activities of medical personnel primarily those allocated to the Paediatric Medicine ward; supervising research activities of medical interns on Haematology/ Oncology topics; and teaching medical students, residents and other junior staff about pertinent Paediatric topics.
These areas of responsibility and ongoing collaboration place Dr. Stanton in a very good position to impart to the doctors in the department, knowledge gained during the UK Fellowship, ultimately making for a strengthened response to caring for Paediatric patients with sickle cell anemia and thalassaemia.
Sickle cell disease is a group of disorders that affects hemoglobin, the molecule in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to cells throughout the body. People with this disorder have atypical hemoglobin molecules called hemoglobin S, which can distort red blood cells into a sickle, or crescent, shape.
Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder in which the body makes an abnormal form of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the protein molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen. The disorder results in excessive destruction of red blood cells, which leads to anaemia since their body tends to produce a lot less red blood cells and they are much smaller than they should be and so they trend to require blood transfusions regularly, she outlined.
Rearing and ready to go, the 32-year-old, with a Master’s Degree in Paediatrics, Dr. Stanton holds both a MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) and a MMD (Master’s Degree in Medicine) from the University of Guyana. She has been practising as a medical doctor on the Guyana Medical Council for the last seven years.
With a passion for the areas in which she has specialized, Dr. Stanton derives much satisfaction from her job and her daily interaction with Paediatric patients.
Asked what influenced her choice of career, Dr. Stanton modestly replied, “As far as I can recall I have always wanted to be a Paediatrician, ever since I was a child. I think I really chose what I wanted to do, stuck with it, and did not pursue it because other people were doing it.”
And what is the greatest joy she derives from being in the profession? “It’s about being there for them; being able to save lives, literally seeing a child transition from a state of ill health to wellbeing. You see, children are so resilient and if they are sick, although they may not be able to tell you verbally, you can tell from how they act and how they behave; their body language.” She said that the minute a sick child is feeling better, you can tell right away. “That’s when they begin laughing and interacting really well with you. It’s like a 180 degree turn around and you can see the joy. That makes me happy,” she confessed.
“I tend to think that people underestimate how much children (especially children with chronic diseases) –go through and how much they understand,” she said.
Using as an example the oncology patients or sickle cell patients, Dr. Stanton said, “Make no mistake, these children are aware of what diseases they have. They know what medication they have to take, and in the case of the older ones some of them even know their dosage and how often they have to take it. They know things that would make them feel worse; what to avoid, what will make them feel better. Some of them even remind their parents when their clinic dates come around,” she said.
“And so while lots of adults might say, ‘Well oh, it’s a child, and a child doesn’t understand’, they understand a lot more than we give them credit for.”
She admits that sometimes it’s quite difficult to deal with, but insists that as their doctors, you need to be strong for them. “Because at the end of the day, you’re the one leading the team and you’re the person who will ultimately make the decisions that affect their quality of life and therefore you need to be very focused when you are doing that,” she said.
And as for oncology Dr. Stanton outlined that she chose to take an interest in oncology because of the similarities, in terms of working with blood and blood disorders, and also took an interest in haematology.
Hence those are the two areas that technically, she has responsibility for. She conducts clinics in those areas. Oncology clinic is held every other Thursday afternoon – the first and third Thursday of every month, as well as a haematology clinic every Friday morning at the GPHC.
In 2011, Dr. Stanton, with a passion for taking care of and working towards preserving the lives of babies and children, while at the same time working in pursuit of higher education, enrolled into the Master’s degree programme to do her residency which was of three years’ duration.
She was among the first batch of five doctors from the GPHC to have undergone the training and they all completed it successfully. In that same year she attended the Miami Neonatology Conference.
Falling under the purview of Paediatric are: The Paediatric Medicine Ward; Paediatric Outpatient Departmert (comprising the Walk In Clinic and Chronic Diseases, catering for children who have a kidney or heart problem and who need constant supervision and need to come to clinic regularly). There is also, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit which has a few sub-divisions where they can see babies from as little as 28 weeks gestation.