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Dr. Nanton brings new medical service to SVG

Dr. Nanton brings new medical service to SVG

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Vincentians can now have endoscopies and colonoscopies performed without having to travel overseas for the procedures.{{more}}

And over the last two weeks, over 200 persons turned up at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital to take advantage of the free service.

The service has come to our shores thanks to the efforts of Dr. Steven Nanton, a Vincentian-born, United States-based gastroenterologist, the Mckennan Olympus Foundation and Endoscopy Centre, the Lions Club South and businessman Paul St. John.

Nanton, who is based in South Dakota, arrived in St. Vincent with a ten-member team on January 21.

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT at the operating theatre of the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital on Wednesday, February 2, Nanton disclosed that the team of doctors screened 240 persons in about two and a half days.

From the persons screened, endoscopies and colonoscopies were conducted on seventy of them.

Nanton explained that endoscopies are performed on the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract, while colonoscopies look for abnormalties in the colon or lower end of the GI tract.

In addition to those two tests, a few patients were given a cutting edge test called a “Pill Cam”, in which a camera, the size of a pill is swallowed. This “Pill Cam” has the ability to take 50,000 images of sections of the GI tract. The “Pill Cam” is used to examine areas of the GI tract which cannot be reached by an upper tract endoscopy or a colonoscopy. The pill cam records images from the small bowel or small intestines. That procedure was done on about five individuals.

From the colonoscopies done, Nanton said that the team was able to detect about 20 pre-cancerous lesions called polyps. These were removed from the patients’ bowels during the colonoscopies.

Nanton, however, clarified that as a Gastroenterologist, he is not a surgeon, but in addition to diagnosing and treating diseases involving the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, gallbladder and pancreas, he takes tissue samples for biopsies and also marks the location of tumours so that the surgeon can remove them.

Other diagnoses made over the last two weeks include Xanthoma, Gastritis, Oesophagitis, Peptic ulcers, gastric ulcers, E Pylori, duodenal ulcers and acid reflux. Two diagnoses of cancer were made.

Nanton said despite what some may think, the main cause of stomach ulcers is not stress, but the E Pylori bacteria and NSAIDS (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), which are medications used primarily to treat inflammation and pain.

“Our aim is to establish endoscopy services here and to make it easily accessible to the general public,” Nanton stated.

Nanton, who works in the Gastroenterology unit at the Avera McKennan Hospital in South Dakota, said that he does not want the endoscopy machine to be used for private doctors for profit.

He stated that although the decision lies with the Hospital Administration about whether to charge a fee to cover the cost of using the facilities, he hopes that the use of the machine would remain accessible to everyone who needs the service.

Members of Nanton’s team spent one week here, during which they trained hospital staff in the operation and upkeep of the endoscopy equipment. He, however, stated that training physicians on how to use the machine to do endoscopies will take a much longer time.

So although he trained local doctors while here, until he returns to St.Vincent “in a month or two”, the machine will not be used.

He added that thereafter, he hopes to return to St. Vincent on a regular basis to provide the service free of charge to those who need it.

“We want this to be a continuing thing. So I would be back in a month or two with or without a team to continue the service,” he said, stating that he will on occasion bring experts to do training sessions.

“I think we will achieve our goal of bringing the service here on a permanent basis,” Nanton added.

Nanton commended the local medical staff with whom he worked, especially the nurse anesthetist and Dr. Conrad Nedd, who he said was the only local physician who was present for and assisted with all 70 procedures done.

Nanton is the son of Ian and Mildred Nanton of New Montrose and is a former student of the St. Vincent Grammar School.

The Endoscopy Machine and the associated peripheral equipment and supplies, which were donated by Olympus, the Avera McKennan Hospital, Erbe USA and other donors, is valued at approximately US$600,000.