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School of Nursing Faculty Blogs from Conference in Barbados

October 08, 2007

October 8, 2007 - Greetings from Barbados, where the Duke University School of Nursing’s Office of Global and Community Health Initiatives in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Office of Caribbean Program Coordination and the Barbados Ministry of Health and the Centers for Disease Control are sponsoring the 1st annual collaborative continuing education conference on Managing Cardiovascular Disease in the Elderly.

Over 165 registrants representing 17 nations in the Caribbean are in attendance, along with representatives from the World Health Organization, 10 Duke faculty, and 11 faculty from the Caribbean have designed a highly interactive conference designed to explore opportunities to increase the capacity of providers and educators to provide evidence-based care to the growing numbers of older adults in the Caribbean region who are at risk for adverse health outcomes from cardiovascular disease.

Tonight’s opening session was keynoted by Sir George Allyne, Chancellor, University of the West Indies, who commented on the importance of focusing on both prevention of cardiovascular disease and treatment of those with existing disease. In his remarks, he highlighted the important role that community health nurses in the Caribbean played in dramatically decreasing the infant mortality rate in the region. He spoke to the potential for nurses, who represent the largest number of health care providers in the region, to similar lead a “wellness revolution” in care of the aged.

The conference is being heralded as key to the overall strategy in the Caribbean to responding to the increasing prevalence of chronic non-communicable diseases. People are enormously excited about the potential for collaboration. One indicator—as we speak, our conference is being covered on the Barbados radio news this evening! The audience is multi-disciplinary, and the energy from the diverse perspectives is palpable. It’s exciting to be here and I’m sure we’ll have more to report in the coming week!

Ellie McConnell, R.N., PhD.,APRN,BC, is an associate professor and director of the Geronotological Nursing Specialty at the Duke University School of Nursing.

October 9, 2007 - Today inaugurated the first full day of sessions following a dynamic opening ceremony last night. The representation of so many different communities and cultures. Dr. Gillian Barclay, the Sub-Regional Advisor, Human Resource Development for PAHO introduced the day events and provided a warm Caribbean welcome. The opening plenary session was presented by Dr. Anselm Hennis, Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology, U of the West Indies, on the epidemiology of cardiovascular (CV) disease as related to co-morbidities and aging and presented a perspective on multi-sector management. The demographics in the Caribbean are dramatic and compelling illustrating that how in a few decades, life expectancy has increased but co-morbidities associated with CVD has also increased leading to profound public health issues. One stunning point related to the multiplicative effect of risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, smoking, obesity, inflammatory factors, high cholesterol, APO lipoproteins, and other risks that when associated together contributed to a 200-400% increase for serious CV disease.

Deborah Lekan, RNC, MSN, CCCN is a Clinal Associate with the Duke University School of Nursing.

October 10, 2007 - Today was a pretty full day in the conference and the Duke people were clearly on the go as speakers and moderators. What has been impressive was how the participants were so interactive during the Q&A of each session. I learned a lot – in the US making phone calls to connect with our patients and other providers is nothing problematic; however, in Jamaica , most people do not have land lines and using mobile phones costs approximately 60 US cents per minute! I also learned that models of care do exist in the Caribbean and the pressing matter is having a systematic documentation of what they do so others (like us) can learn from them. Dr. Trevor Hassel, cardiologist and director of medical services at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Barbados , gave an informative talk about the several health initiatives to coordinate care for the elderly with cardiovascular disease. Surely exciting times ahead for them in healthcare!

Cristina Hendrix, DNS, CFNP, CCRN, is an assistant professor at the Duke University School of Nursing.

October 11, 2007 - Today was the culmination of the conference week, when conference participants were divided into five groups for depth discussion and deliberation over the current status, vision for the future, and strategies to achieve the vision, in the management of cardiovascular health disease of the elderly in the Caribbean region.

Kirsten Corazzini, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at the Duke University School of Nursing.

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