“[…] Professor Courtenay Bartholomew was the perfect example of what a doctor should be—highly skilled, brilliant, very knowledgeable, thorough, and in-depth with every medical case.
“But what stood out, even more, was his tremendous humanity. In his hospital ward rounds, his bedside comportment was especially exemplary, for he never failed to go beyond the call to analyse the vaguest medical issues of patients, treating everyone under his care with unmatched compassion and respect…”
The following statement on the passing of Professor Courtenay Bartholomew was submitted to Wired868 by former MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh:
I have awoken to the truly sad news of the passing of one of this country’s region’s greatest medical doctors and scientists, Professor Courtenay Bartholomew. I am filled with deep grief, for he was one of the greatest influences in my medical career, a mentor and true friend.
I first met Professor Bartholomew at the POS General Hospital in 1973, as a young student, trainee, and intern in my final year of Medical School (UWI), where he was a lecturer in Internal Medicine. He was the perfect example of what a doctor should be—highly skilled, brilliant, very knowledgeable, thorough, and in-depth with every medical case.
But what stood out, even more, was his tremendous humanity. In his hospital ward rounds, his bedside comportment was especially exemplary, for he never failed to go beyond the call to analyse the vaguest medical issues of patients, treating everyone under his care with unmatched compassion and respect.
As a teacher, he was no-nonsense, highly disciplined, and deeply invested in his students, always guiding us to do post-Graduate studies abroad to gain invaluable experience.
In 1974, I had been selected alongside regional greats in the Jamaican Cricket team to play against Tobago. I remember asking Professor Bartholomew’s permission to participate in this game during our class’ Allenbury Prize in Medicine exam, and he sternly said to me:
“Young man, are you here to study medicine or play cricket?”
“Both, sir,” I replied.
He could have said no, but he allowed me to play in that momentous game, knowing, undoubtedly, that it was very important to me. And that was the moment he went from being a well-liked teacher to my de facto mentor.
In his great lifetime, Professor Bartholomew was a giant of a man, highly decorated and winning global respect and acclaim, for his truly trailblazing, unmatched work in the overall medical development of Trinidad and Tobago and the region—and especially in Internal Medicine.
He diagnosed the first case of AIDS in the English-speaking Caribbean, founded the Medical Research Foundation, and many of the world’s most distinguished practitioners and scientists would attend his large medical conferences in the 1980s and 1990s in T&T.
He remains one of our country’s greatest intellectuals, academics, scientists, public servants, doctors and patriots, and his tremendous work and legacy will live forever.
In the last few years, illness had slowed him down, even as I became closer to my beloved, inspirational teacher, mentor, and friend, and the stories of his amazing life of devoted human service continued to inspire me as much as his early medical lectures.
I will miss him, and be eternally grateful that I had the honour and privilege of being taught by him in this lifetime in so many ways.
May his great soul rest in eternal peace, and may the Good Lord grant comfort to his beautiful wife and wonderful children during this time of grief.