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(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – Saint Lucia continues to receive unwavering support from a foreign organization seeking to improve the smiles of Caribbean people.
After three years of service in Saint Lucia, the Ministry of Health & Wellness felt this year was necessary to highlight the positive impact Great Shape! Inc. has had on the lives of Saint Lucians. On Thursday August 2nd, Sen. the Hon. Mary Isaac along with other Health officials visited the Bordelais Correctional Facility, to receive a firsthand demonstration of the operations and services conducted by Great Shape! Inc.
Great Shape Inc. is a group of licensed dentists and hygienists from various territories in the USA & Canada who came under one umbrella to develop and improve dental health in the Caribbean. Founding Executive Director, Joseph Wright gave a brief overview of their objectives.
“We have a mission to provide access to dental care and education to persons in high need in the Caribbean we started out in Jamaica 30 years ago we have been providing free dental care, free eye care literacy programs throughout the island of Jamaica, recently in partnership with Sandals foundation we’ve spread our services to islands of Saint Lucia, Grenada Turks & Caicos and hopefully other islands in the future and all the services are 100% free to the people that we are here for.”
Great Shape! Inc. offered several services which included; extractions, root canals, cleanings, fillings, sealants, x-rays, exams, fluoride and education. The executive director explained why Bordelais correctional facility was made a priority and Saint Lucia by extension.
“Saint Lucia is a very good profile for our work in terms of the need, the demographics in terms of the welcoming nature of Saint Lucian people, the Ministry of Health has been incredibly supportive, sandals foundation operates here, logistically it worked well, I think most of all we love the people of Saint Lucia they are friendly and beautiful warm people and today we’re here at Bordelais Correctional facility because providing care to the inmates here is again a great honor for us, it’s a service that is greatly needed and you know somehow we feel compelled to serve those most in need and I think that this is the perfect place to fulfill that mission.”
The Executive Director said thank you was an understatement, in expressing their gratitude to their collaborative partners in delivering this important public health service.
“There’s many people to thank especially the Ministry of Health who made it possible for us to be here, the government of Jamaica, I want to give a really special thank you to the Sandals foundation, the Stewart family who believes in our work and knows a good social investment when they see one. They provide free rooms for volunteers to come down, free accommodation , transportation and logistical support in order to make this program very valuable and attractive to dentists who close their practices back home to come to provide free dental care for people in need. Big shout out to all the Sandals people, Sandals foundation and the Stewart family for what they’ve done for Jamaica, St. Lucia and for around the Caribbean.”
Meanwhile, Minister for Health & Wellness Sen. the Hon Mary Isaac expressed her appreciation and highlighted the importance of free dental care.
“It is extremely important for us, the service that Great Shape is providing for our people here in Saint Lucia especially here in the prison at Bordelais where you know they do not have the freedom to go get their own dental care so the fact that Great Shape can bring it to them in the prison is really something we have to be grateful and thankful for. I also believe that it is very important from a hygiene prospective that we encourage our prisoners and our general population to keep up their dental work, their dental visits and so on so that they can prevent more complications later down the road. So it is a great service that they are providing for us and a lot of these prisoners even when they are outside, a lot of these clients even when they are not incarcerated a lot of them may not be able to afford dental care so it is quite a privileged that they are afforded these services.”
According to the Great Shape! Inc. 2017 Project report, nearly 1000 persons were served during that period. As for this year, while many benefited from their services including the communities of Marchand and Babonneau, only time will tell, whether the team will reach the 1000 plus smiles goal.