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Blood Donor Day Highlighted

Health Minister, Hon. Dwayne Seymour

Good afternoon to everyone in Grand Cayman, the Sister Islands and to the Caymanian diaspora listening in from abroad.

This Sunday, 14 June, the Cayman Islands will join countries around the world to celebrate World Blood Donor Day, a day that serves to raise awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products and to thank blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood.

I've received some outstanding statistics from the blood bank today that I'd like to share with you all. Data from the blood bank shows that 69 units of blood were collected in March, 151 in April and 160 in May, totalling to an amount of 380 units.

Also, there were 11 new donors in March, 87 in April and 96 in May totaling the amount of 194 new donors. According to Judith Clarke, the manager of the blood bank, these numbers are extraordinary and surpasses the number of new donors we had around the same period last year.

I want to commend those of you that have taken the time to contribute to these numbers. Your action is a true example of what it means to be Caymankind.

I also implore our regular donors to continue to donate and potential donors to reach out to our blood bank. They are now located at the Red Cross on Huldah Avenue across from the cricket grounds in George Town and they are particularly low on O positive and O negative blood types at this time.

Blood is an important resource, both for planned treatments and urgent interventions. It can help patients suffering from life-threatening conditions live longer and with a higher quality of life, and supports complex medical and surgical procedures.

It is also vital for treating the wounded during emergencies of all kinds (natural disasters, accidents, armed conflicts, and more) and has an essential, life-saving role in maternal and perinatal care.

For more information and to book an appointment, please visit www.bloodbank.ky or call 244-2674.

On another note, I hope you all were able to watch the mental health symposiusm - I trust that you found it interesting and helpful. If you've missed it, don't worry we're sharing the link on our social media channels, and you can also go to the CIGTV YouTube channel and watch it there.

In thinking about mental health, I keep hearing discussions around insomnia, strange dreams and nightmares. The coronavirus seems to have given the world a sleeping problem by many having to adjust to several drastic changes, in a quick manner, so it's understandable that our sleep is being disrupted.

There are so many things that keep us up at night - social distancing from loved ones, school closures, for some of us its working non-stop hours from-home, for others it's not being able to work at all or for our brave essential staff it is having to risk themselves and their families everyday to go to work for the rest of us.

As we continue to adjust, we must stay as physically and mentally healthy as possible. Sleep plays a big part in this, as sleeping well offers many health benefits.

The National Sleep Foundation in the US offers some great tips in maintaining a good night's rest during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The foundation states on its website: "Sleep is critical to physical health and effective functioning of the immune system. It is also a key promoter of emotional wellness and mental health, helping to beat back stress, depression, and anxiety."

Why is sleep so important? Well as mentioned:

  • Sleep enhances our mood and can improve our mental health.
  • It also allows for a more effective immune system, strengthening the body's defences.
  • But sleep also heightens brain function for children and adults. Rest supports a clearer memory, complex thoughts, heightened learning and leads to better decision-making.

But on the other side of the coin, too much sleep can make people feel irritable, groggy and cause a lack of focus. So, we are encouraging you to strive for a balance and set sleep goals.

Routines can help create a sense of normalcy. Try stretching, yoga, meditation, calming music and quiet reading to help develop a routine.

Try to schedule going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning.

And set a routine for getting ready in the morning as well, for example showering and getting dressed even if you aren't leaving the house.

Try not to do any work in your bed, leave the bed for sleeping and the desk for working.

During the night, if you find that you're having a hard time staying asleep, get up and do something relaxing in very low light, returning to bed and try again to fall asleep.

Turn off the lights, devices and the television as blue light produced by electronic devices has been found to disturb the body's natural sleep-promoting processes.

It's of course better to stay active as Dr. Lee has preached to us through-out this crisis; so plan a time to move around each day as regular activity has several important benefits, including better sleep.

I would like to remind everyone to visit the wellness page which has so many useful tips and resources at www.exploregov.ky/mind. However, if you are still having significant sleeping problems after employing these tips I would encourage you to get in touch with your doctor.

On a happy note, I would like to give an update on the musicians' stipends being handled by my ministry. I am pleased to report that a total of 149 completed applications were approved for these stipends. 54 payments went out earlier this week, another batch of 84 are in process today and a final batch of 11 persons for next week.

There are 50 additional pending grants for which the Ministry is awaiting the actual applications from persons who expressed an interest. Those persons seeking assistance are requested to submit their applications to the Ministry by 19 June in order to be processed. The contact info is Sharon.roberts2@gov.ky and via phone on 244-3170 and/or 925-8373.

My ministry is contacting all persons as payments are available. The Government is pleased to have been able to assist these persons, who have had their incomes and lives severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with these stipends of $1,000 each. I wish to thank persons at my ministry for their hard work in getting these payments processed.

Finally, in closing, I would also like to remind persons who have lost their employment to register with the Health Insurance Commission (HIC) regarding health insurance premiums assistance.

If you have unpaid premiums for the month of May, please be reminded that you have until 15 June to apply for assistance. Further details, including an instruction sheet and application form can be found on the department's website at: www.dhrs.gov.ky under health insurance commission. You may also reach out to them at HIC for further information.

Thank you and have a safe and restful long weekend!

For further information contact: Bina Mani