Complied by: Damian Rudder, MSC, DABR
Credit goes to Mr. Soogrim Oudit who provided most of the historical timelines and facts.
Radiation Therapy in Trinidad and Tobago has advanced from humble beginnings to world class sophistication today. The earliest record of radiation therapy performed in Trinidad and Tobago dates back to the early 1960s. Dr. Barrow and a team of two therapy radiographers, led treatment at San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) with one superficial, 400kV X-Ray Unit.
Port-of-Spain General Hospital (POSGH) soon followed SFGH in 1966. Dr. Carol Inalsigh and Mr. Soogrim Oudit spearheaded therapy using a Stabiplan deep therapy unit, a KX10 GE superficial unit and uterine rubber tubes preloaded with radium and cesium sources for brachytherapy.
In 1970, upon his return from training in Canada, Mr. Lennox Baptiste was hired at the POSGH as the first Medical Physicist in the country. Mr. Baptiste was integral in the transfer of services from POSGH to the current National Radiotherapy Centre (NRC) in St James, in 1972. At this site, the Theraton T-80 Cobalt60 unit was added however, brachytherapy services continued to be delivered out of POSGH.
In 1976 Mr. Oudit returned to the NRC after a two year training program as a Physics Radiographer. This role has moved into what we today call a Medical Dosimetrist. In 1979, brachytherapy services were relocated from POSGH to the NRC with the opening of a new operating theatre at the NRC.
Services continue today at the NRC, where there are currently four Medical Physicists working. Since its inception, there have been a number of changes brought about by the dynamic nature of the field. In the early 1990s, the preloaded uterine tubes for brachytherapy sources were replaced with after loaded tandem and ovoids systems using Cesium-137 sources. The first treatment planning system was commissioned for use around 2006 and a move from X-ray based simulation to CT based simulation, which allowed for 3-Dimensional Conformal treatment planning, was done in 2009. In late 2015, a High Dose Rate (HDR) Remote After-loading Brachytherapy unit was purchased for the NRC and is expected to be installed and commissioned in mid-2016.
In 2006 the first linear accelerator was commissioned in Trinidad and Tobago, with the establishment of the first private radiotherapy centre – the Brian Lara Cancer Treatment Centre (BLCTC) in Woodbrook. Services still continue there and include remote after loading brachytherapy.
2008 saw the advent of a second linear accelerator at the Southern Medical Oncology Centre (SMOC), San Fernando. In 2015, SMOC installed its second linear accelerator, the first with the capability of performing Rapid Arc treatments in the country, and services continue there today and include remote after loading brachytherapy.
Medical physicists have played important and central roles in the provision of radiation therapy services as well as in the commissioning of new services over the years in Trinidad and Tobago, both in the public and private sectors. Below is a list of all Medical Physicists who have in some way contributed towards the development of Radiation Therapy and Diagnostic Radiology in Trinidad and Tobago:
Lennox Baptiste worked at the National Radiotherapy Centre from 1970 till his retirement in 1996. He was the first Medical Physicist to practice in Trinidad and Tobago. He is still enjoying his retirement at his home in Woodbrook. Mr. Baptiste did provide part time services to the NRC during the period 2005 – 2006.
Brian George worked at the National Radiotherapy Centre from 1977 till the early 1980s. His current whereabouts are unknown.
Colville Osbourne worked at the NRC from about 1979 till the mid 1980s. He migrated to the United States and is currently the Chief Medical Physicist at Alegent Health – Lakeside Radiation Oncology in Omaha, New England, USA
Anthony Archibald was at the NRC from 1989 till 1992. He left to establish the first Nuclear Medicine Service at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC), in Mt Hope. He currently owns and manages two private nuclear medicine facilities in San Fernando and Tacarigua. Anthony provided part time services to the NRC in 2005 and 2006.
Damian Rudder worked at the NRC from 1992 till 2003. In 2003 he left to work in Pennsylvania USA, but returned in 2006 to help establish the (BLCTC). In 2008 he moved to do the same for the Southern Medical Clinic. In 2011 Damian migrated to the US Virgin Islands, where he currently works at the Schneider Regional Medical Center. Damian did provided part time services to the NRC for a brief period in 2006.
Sue Jaan Mejias worked at the NRC from 2000 till about 2005. Previous to that she worked with Anthony Archibald in nuclear medicine at EWMSC from about 1993. In 2005 she left to complete a residency in Canada and returned to work for the National Oncology Centre Project from 2007 to 2010. The latter part of that time, she returned to the NRC. Currently she is the Senior Medical Physicist at the BLCTC.
Patricia Singh worked at the NRC from 2006 to 2014, with a year or two hiatus in the middle of that period. Previously, from 1995, she also worked in Nuclear Medicine at the EWMSC with Sue Jaan and Anthony. Currently Patricia is the Senior Medical Physicist and Department manager at the SMOC.
Amanda Moses-Rahal started working at the BLCTC in 2006 with Damian. She left the centre in 2014.
Nithya Loganathan is an Indian national that worked at the BLCTC with Amanda and Damian from about 2007 till 2009. She returned to India with her husband who was a Radiation Therapist at the same centre.
Vinai Parthiban is also an Indian national. He was recruited to the SMCO after Damian left in 2011. He and Patricia worked together for a short time before leaving for Australia in 2015.
Huriyyah Mohammed worked at the SMOC for a short time in 2011, and continued service at SMOC from 2012-2014.
Pratibha Rai currently works with Sue Jaan and the BLCTC. She has been there since 2013.
Imran Khan worked as a Medical Physicist at the EWMSC from 2014-early 2016. He is now stationed at the University of Trinidad & Tobago (UTT) on a full time basis.
There are currently four Medical Physicists working in the Public Sector of Trinidad and Tobago and are primarily based at the National Radiotherapy Centre.
Anil Daniel Singh
Sherisse De Four
These physicists oversee the daily running at the National Radiotherapy Centre and also offer support to other public facilities which utilize ionizing radiation.
Naveen Ratan started in 2012 and is currently the Acting Senior Medical Physicist, at the NRC. After Imran’s full time move to UTT, Naveen and Sherisse De Four who started at NRC in 2015, offer part time services to North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) with Naveen leading the administration of Iodine-131 capsules and Sherisse responsible for radiation protection services for the region.
Vladimir Henderson Suite started at NRC in 2007 and both himself and Anil Daniel Singh who started in 2014 currently offer part time services to the Eastern Regional Health Authority (ERHA).
Hannah Mathura started working as a Medical Physicist at MRI T&T in 1997 and is currently based there.
Dr. Nikolay Zyuzikov and Dr. Sybele Williams are based in academia at the University of the West Indies
To date, Medical Physics is rapidly expanding and the Physicists present in the field are not limited to Radiation therapy. Health Physics, Radiation protection services, consultancy and academia are now competing for these specialists. In years to come, Medical Physicists will be a profession vital for many sectors in Trinidad and Tobago.