Broward Health Professionals Travel to Jamaica to Educate on Palliative Care

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (April 19, 2010) – Medical professionals from Broward Health System will travel to Jamaica in April to participate in an educational seminar on palliative and curative aspects of cancer care for doctors and nurses at the Hope Institute, a small oncology hospital in Kingston.

Food For The Poor, an international relief and development organization, is sponsoring three of the four Broward Health System employees who will attend the “Pain and Hope: Advancing Practice” conference on April 23-24. 

“We are trying to raise awareness of the cancer patient’s lifestyle, survivorship issues and how working in collaboration with other services can benefit the patient,” said Dingle Spence, M.D., a British-trained oncologist and palliative care physician who works at the Hope Institute, where cancer patients can receive both curative treatments and palliative care.

This year’s joint conference hosted by Hope Institute and Jamaica Pain Collaborative, will address issues surrounding the management of pain from all types of disease, including cancer.

“Palliative care is the total care of cancer patients who are not responsive to curative treatment,” said Dr. Spence. “Patients may be treated either at home, in the hospital or an inpatient hospice care facility.”

Palliative care is not dependent on prognosis and does not replace curative care. It focuses on pain and symptom management and emotional and spiritual care for patients and their families as they go through the stages of a serious illness. Palliative care may be provided for any life-threatening illnesses, including AIDS, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, renal disease, dementia and cancer.

“I believe it is important for doctors in the United States to take an eye-opening look at the medical situation in other countries,” said Pamela Sutton, M.D., director of the Broward Health Barbara Ziegler Palliative Care Program, who has participated in three of the last four of the Hope Institute’s annual seminars.

Dr. Sutton is no stranger to challenging medical conditions. In 1985, she spent three and a half months as the resident physician in an Ethiopian feeding center sponsored by Church World Service. After her service in Ethiopia, she worked with Freedom Medicine in Pakistan, caring for Afghan refugees, and in India, Pakistan and Africa with the World Health Organization, helping promote palliative care and pain relief for cancer patients.

She realized early in her interaction with the Hope Institute that Jamaican medical professionals face many critical challenges, both physical and organizational.

“By offering education and moral support we can strengthen their programs for cancer patients and help foster the development of hospice and palliative care in Jamaica,” she said.

“We believe palliative care should come early in the diagnosis so patients have medical friends who are there to help them when the symptoms get difficult and when emotional stress is overwhelming,” said Dr. Sutton, who has a certificate of added qualification in Hospice and Palliative Medicine from the American Board of Family Medicine.

“Dr. Sutton has been blessed with the skills of medical knowledge and the gift of empathy,” said Robin Mahfood, Food For The Poor’s CEO/President. “Food For The Poor is honored that Dr. Sutton has the desire to aid the poor by sharing her knowledge with employees and patients at the Hope Institute of Jamaica.”

Dr. Sutton; Tiffany Ellis, D.O., a palliative medicine fellow at Broward General Medical Center; Broward Health social worker Linda Sapp, MSW; and Broward Health’s Chaplain Ansel Aiken, who are all part of the Broward Health Barbara Ziegler Palliative Care Program, will attend and speak at the seminar.

“I have a great respect and appreciation for Food For The Poor’s sponsorship and for the help they offer the locals in countries like Jamaica,” Dr. Sutton said. “Food For The Poor has facilitated the relationship between the Hope Institute and Broward Health. This partnering has led to cancer treatment and palliative care opportunities in Kingston and has opened the eyes of our physicians and fellows. We have everything and they have far less. It is important for us to see because it helps us refocus on what really matters.”

Food For The Poor will offer a medical mission trip to Jamaica in November of this year. The nonprofit is seeking doctors, nurses and other medical staff who have a heart for the poor to register for the trip where they will work in tandem with local medical personnel. Supplies for the trips will be collected by Food For The Poor and will be available when the medical team arrives. For more information, call 1-800-568-8124 or e-mail

Food For The Poor is a major supplier of medicine, medical equipment, and health supplies to hospitals and clinics throughout Jamaica, and other medical facilities throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.

About Food For The Poor
Food For The Poor, the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian agency provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit

About Broward Health System
Broward Health, providing service for more than 50 years, is a nationally recognized system offering world-class health care services to our neighbors in South Florida. One of the 10 largest public health systems in the nation, Broward Health includes Broward General Medical Center, North Broward Medical Center, Imperial Point Medical Center, Coral Springs Medical Center, Chris Evert Children’s Hospital, Broward Health Weston and more than 30 facilities of the Community Health Services and Broward Health Physician Group. For more information visit

Jennifer Leigh Oates
Public Relations
954.427.2222, ext. 6054