Montserrat Healthy Hearts

Bringing Cardiology to the Heart of the Magma: Montserrat Experience

Montserrat is a tiny British Island, 40 square miles in the Eastern Caribbean with inhabitants predominantly of African descent but with inter racial mixing of Arawak and Carib Indians as well as the early European settlers. The island was a vibrant and thriving place to live before the volcano erupted in the late 20th Century. The Volcano had been dormant for 400 years, and became active in 1995. The first major eruption occurred in 1997 with 19 deaths due to people moving back into the forbidden zone. There were a total of three significant eruptions; most of the other volcanic activity included acid rain, heavy ash and sulfur emissions. These events destroyed the capital and many surrounding areas. Other important structures destroyed were the American University of the Caribbean (AUC) medical school and the AIR studios (musical recording studio). The loss of infrastructure and revenue resulted in a mass exodus of people, over 80% of the population. There are now approximately 7000 people on the island crowded into the northern most portion of the island. Many have experienced the loss of loved ones and relatives. To aid this damaged community, Montserrat Healthy Hearts has brought and continues to bring cardiovascular healthcare to citizens of the island as a portion of the efforts to rebuilt infrastructure.


Medical Need

On the island, there is a high incidence of Hypertension and Diabetes, perhaps in part evoked by the stress and repercussion of the volcano. Along with the exodus of lay people in 1997, members of the medical community also left such that there is no cardiovascular specialist on the island. The islanders thus fall into three categories – no cardiac care, insufficient cardiac care provided by internists or partial care on a neighboring island or abroad if the family has the financial capability. Dr. Fergus was invited by the government to perform cardiac evaluation and treatment. In August 2011, a small team went to the island and performed basic cardiac care, screening and evaluation of the cardiac risk factors.

2015 Healthcare Services

Clinical Care

Diagnosis and treatment – patients seen by Dr. Fergus Rowe
Echoes scanned and interpreted by Dr. Scobie.
Information and assistance for various patients – Dr. Buffonge

BLS Training & Certification

Training – by Dr. Renee Murray Bachmann, nurses certified.

Other Services

Community Outreach and Education: Screening and education by Nancy Thomas and Elizabeth Tinuoye.
T-shirts, pedometers, water bottles and educational materials were distributed.
Diabetes education
Lunch and Learn: provided by Dr. Fergus Rowe to health care providers on island
Call to Action (Hike for Fitness Activity): individuals participated in a hike led by James Scriber Daley on the Oriole trail.
Even the Minister of Health at the time, Honorable Delmaude Ryan, participated.
Additional items were given away including healthy food supplements.

Aspirations for 2016 & Beyond

Goals include increasing awareness of health issues on island, providing more education, training, supplies (including certain medications) and providing more cardiac services on island to include Stress testing, Holter Monitors, CT Scanning.