During the last two years, frontline healthcare workers have contributed invaluable effort, putting their lives at risk to keep us safe. These incredible people are why so many of us didn’t lose family and friends to COVID-19. While Canadians may have access to widespread access healthcare, there are many places around the world where there isn’t an abundance of qualified doctors and nurses. Unique geographical challenges (in this case, living on an island!) can also contribute to the great difficulty of ensuring access to care in these locales. On the dual Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda, where healthcare remains a foremost concern, Dr. Keane P. Jeremiah Jr. has emerged as a leader with a novel idea.
Born on the island of Antigua and Barbuda, Dr. Jeremiah knew from a young age that he wanted to help those who were less fortunate. This desire stemmed from his own personal history; an experience no doubt familiar to many other Antiguans and Barbudans.
“I didn’t know a single doctor because mom was doing her best with my other five siblings and couldn’t afford constant medical care. On account of this, I had multiple jobs before leaving for Cuba at the age of 16. Working at supermarkets and packing shelves by night and working for the government in the days,” recounts Dr. Jeremiah.
Shaped by two phrases in his youth, “nothing but the best is good enough” and “success through perseverance,” Dr. Jeremiah pushed himself to be the best version of himself he could be. Dr. Jeremiah got the chance to learn medicine in Cuba after earning a scholarship from the Government of Antigua and Barbuda in 2006. Upon returning from his studies in Cuba, Dr. Jeremiah was mentored by Dr. Eumel Samuel, owner of the Belmont Clinic Ltd. For five years, Dr. Jeremiah learned how to provide holistic care, serving at times as a doctor, nurse, ambulance dispatcher, and an occasional cook.
A passionate and kind man, Dr. Jeremiah wanted to create a program that could help his community thrive, especially after the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma. From this dream, “Medz on Wheelz” was born. “Medz on Wheelz,” provides 24/7 at-home medical services such as urinalysis, blood pressure and blood sugar screenings. When asked why he created this program, Dr. Jeremiah gave three reasons:
While Dr. Jeremiah starts most days at 5 am, working grueling hours into the night. He admits that “Medz on Wheelz” is reaching more people than he thought possible. When asked about his feelings about the future of healthcare on the island, Dr. Jeremiah responded candidly. “One of the most important aspects of the Hippocratic Oath, which I take very seriously, is the promise to share my knowledge, and with compassion and respect to my patients and my fellows, I will continue to carry what I’ve learned forward for the next generation, always doing good for people who want better.”
Dr. Jeremiah is putting his community first, demonstrating to all that one person can make a difference and whenever you are stressed out, remember Dr. Jeremiah’s words, “Be safe, enjoy life and remember health is wealth.”