About the Candidate
Dr. Rufus Washington Ewing was born in the historic seaside settlement of Blue Hills on the Island of Providenciales where he was raised in a Seventh Day Adventist Christian home by his Mother Mrs. Jane Ewing and Father Hon. Hilly Ewing, former Deputy Chief Minister along with his many siblings. It was during these formative years that the Christian Principles of honesty, integrity, humility, love for mankind and service were instilled.
At an early age Dr. Ewing was introduced to the world of service and caring by his Aunt, Nurse Joyce Ewing-Beswick, with whom he lived while in Jamaica in the early 1970’s. During that period he attended clinics with his Aunt and was fascinated with the art of medicine and there onwards developed a passion for the profession and caring for people. This exposure to medicine continued when Dr. Ewing again accompanied his Aunt to the Blue Hills Clinic when she returned home to work in the late 1970’s.
Dr. Ewing attended the Blue Hills Primary School now called Oseta Jolly Primary School where he was taught by respected educators such as, Mrs. Ellen Howell, Mrs. Cicely Ewing, Mrs. Thelma Lightbourne and Mrs. Mavis Cunningham, just to name a few. After Primary School, Dr. Ewing spent one term at the Private Provo High School in the Bight before being transferred to Grand Turk to attend High School there.
It was in Grand Turk at the Turks and Caicos High School (now Helena Jones Robinson High School) that Dr. Ewing had the opportunity to advance his education and develop his leadership skills and ability. Growing up in Grand Turk away from his immediate family was made easy by the comfort and care offered to him by Ms. Sarah Haven, with whom he lived and whom he now calls his second Mother. This comfort was magnified by the warmed reception he received by his Good Street and North and South Back Salina neighbours and friends and his schoolmates from across the Turks and Caicos. Dr. Ewing was one who was always focused, disciplined and set goals to which he would aspire and achieve and he did just that. He was selected as the Head Boy of his class which was his first opportunity to develop and demonstrate his leadership potential. He was taught by many excellent teachers, but a few of them in particular instilled in him certain qualities that he lives by and cherishes today. Ms. Lillian Swann-Missick, his teacher of history was the first to have left an impressionable mark on his life. She taught him to be a critical and independent thinker, to “not be gullible about the information written in the history books as they were written by “the oppressors and enslavers”. Dr. Ewing was so passionate about her teachings that he excelled in the subject, which was outside of his science mainstream. Mr. Poulose, Mrs. Latha, Mr. Babu, Mrs. Allam and Mr. Ross ensured that he was prepared for the world of science. Mrs. Julia Williams, his teacher of English and Literature taught him perseverance and skills to overcome challenges and obstacles, while Mr. Hubert Fulford, as a Music teacher taught him temperance and patience. The School Principal, Mr. Bertram Ross was his mentor and taught him the art of diplomacy and Leadership. Dr. Ewing graduated from the Turks and Caicos High School in 1985 as the Valedictorian of his class. In 1985 Dr. Ewing was offered a scholarship to go to Trinidad to study to be a General Science Teacher but he turned it down as this was not his ambition and goal. His goal was to become a Surgeon or at least an Electrical Engineer both of which he was passionate about. Dr. Ewing stayed at the Turks and Caicos High School as the Laboratory Technician and Science Tutor whilst improving his academic credentials until 1986 when he was awarded a scholarship to pursue Advanced Level Studies at the Barbados Community College.
Whilst in Barbados Dr. Ewing learned to live an independent life and how to really compete for the prize against serious competitors. Dr. Ewing again surpassed his competitors and excelled in his A-Levels and was awarded a Turks and Caicos Scholarship to pursue Medicine at the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica.
In Jamaica Dr. Ewing again had the opportunity to further develop his Leadership skills. Dr. Ewing, along with Mr. Delton Jones, Bradley Handfield, Alpheus Gardiner and Ms. Carol (former Jamaican Teacher of the Turks and Caicos High School) were instrumental in establishing the Turks and Caicos Students Association (TACSA) in Jamaica. TACSA was established with the mandate to address the welfare of all Turks and Caicos Students studying in Jamaica. TACSA acted as the Liaison between the TCI Government and Students in Jamaica and also represented TCI Students issues at the various institutions. TACSA also acted as an outlet for mentoring younger TCI students ensuring the achievement of their goals. Dr. Ewing served for two years as Vice President and two years as President of TACSA.
Medical School in Jamaica was where the qualities of humility and caring were cultured and solidified and the art of team work was ingrained, as without these one would not survive medical school or emerge to be a great physician.
The Physician and Surgeon
It was in Jamaica, during his Medical School team work sessions that Dr. Ewing met and fell in love with his classmate Dr. Dawn Perry. Dr. Ewing always believed in being organized and efficient and to that end he got married to Dr. Dawn Perry in 1993 on their graduation day.
After completion of Medical School Dr. Ewing and his wife moved to Nassau, Bahamas to complete their internship and start a family life which gave birth to their Son Stuart Ewing. It was in Nassau that Dr. Ewing’s passion for surgery grew. He knew from High school that he wanted to be a surgeon, but there was no conviction to that desire until completion of his surgical internship rotation. This conviction to become a General Surgeon led him back to Jamaica in 1996 to enter the General Surgery Residency Training Programme.
The General Surgery Training Programme was the place where Dr. Ewing was able to utilize all of the life and leadership skills he learnt along the way. However, the skills of critical thinking, evaluation and situational analysis, confidence, discipline and astute decision making were paramount to practice and successful clinical outcome, all based on certain principles which were not to be violated less you fail. During his surgical residency and even so today, Dr. Ewing live on the principles of recognizing his limitations and not wasting time defending the indefensible. Dr. Ewing became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1998 and received training in Paediatric General Surgery in 2000 at the IWK Grace Health Center and Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada before graduating from the University of the West Indies with a Doctorate of Medicine Degree in General Surgery in 2001.
Dr. Ewing has always been a true patriot and loved serving his people. He began serving his people from the time he entered Medical School in 1993, where he looked out for the interest of Turks and Caicos Islanders seeking medical care in Jamaica. This service continued in Nassau during his internship and was scaled up in Jamaica during his residency training. Recognizing the many health needs of his people, Dr. Ewing was anxious to return home to serve his people and did so in 2001 with his family.
The Public Health Care Leader and Community Volunteer
Dr. Ewing was always a visionary and a goal oriented person. Upon arrival home he immediately requested a meeting with the Chief Secretary, Permanent Secretary of Health and others and presented them with his vision for health care in the Turks and Caicos and how he can get it done. There was very little difference between Dr. Ewing’s vision and the plans of the ongoing DFID funded Health Care visioning and Health Sector Development Strategy project.
In August 2001 Dr. Ewing was employed by the Ministry of Health as Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO) with direct responsibility for the Myrtle Rigby Health Complex (MRHC) and Lead Surgeon at the MRHC. There were many challenges being experienced in the Health Care Sector. The most prominent were the lack of surgical services in Providenciales, the rising cost of overseas treatment and the inadequate health infrastructure, particularly on Providenciales and the general lack of equipment. Through Dr. Ewing’s Leadership and the assistance of a dedicated team, the MRHC Operating Theatre was commissioned and the first major surgical procedure was performed in October 2001, after three months on the job. This was a significant achievement as persons from Providenciales requiring appendicitis surgery, routine hernia surgery and C-sections to name a few, no longer had to fly to Grand Turk for surgery. Dr. Ewing addressed the rising cost of overseas treatment by recommending the implementation of a Treatment at Home Programme. This programme saw the procurement of new surgical equipment, the recruitment of more medical and surgical staff and the expansion of the visiting specialist programme. This programme along with other policies resulted in a precipitous reduction in the cost of overseas treatment. The Development of new health facilities and the financing thereof was the most challenging of all the health concerns. Dr. Ewing provided sound clinical guidance and advice to both governments during his term as DCMO and Chief Medical Officer (CMO) on the development of new hospital facilities and the implementation of a National Health Insurance Plan (NHIP).
Dr. Ewing acted as CMO on numerous occasions between 2001 and 2005, until he was appointed as CMO/Director of Health Services in 2005. Dr. Ewing saw it fitting to expand his Public Health knowledge and as such pursued a Master of Public Health Degree from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health which he completed in 2008.
Dr. Ewing was the Lead of the Clinical Work stream for the new Hospitals project and was a member of the National Health Insurance Steering Committee. On both of these committees he played the role of providing policy advice in relation to the provision of clinical services in the new hospitals the protection of the interest of the people in accessing quality health care at all levels especially protecting those that are most vulnerable.
Dr. Ewing saw the need for the strengthening of the Ministry of Health to perform its function with respect to policy and regulation of the health sector. To this end he was instrumental in moving the operating level of the CMO and Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) from the level of the hospital to that of the Ministry of Health and hence strengthened the leadership, management and policy development capacity of the Ministry of Health. He was also instrumental in advocating for the establishment of critical policy, regulatory and strategic units within the Ministry of Health which included the National Epidemiology and Research Unit, the Health Planning and Promotion Unit and the Health Emergency Management Unit. These Units significantly increased the capacity of the Ministry of Health to perform Its Essential Public Health Functions.
Some of major Policies and Projects developed under Dr. Ewing’s Leadership with the assistance of his great health team were:
- Treatment at Home Policy
- Treatment Abroad Policy
- Health Care Infrastructure Development Policy to include the development of:
- MRHC and Grand Turk Hospital Operating Theatre Projects
- South Caicos Clinic
- Two New Hospitals
- Middle Caicos Clinic
- Blue Hills Clinic
- Health Strategic Plans
- Primary Health Care Renewal
- Migrant Health Evaluation Policy and Programme
- Health Care Regulations
Dr. Ewing has achieved much in the development of health care in the Turks and Caicos, but he recognizes that there is still much left to be done especially in the area of Primary Health Care, Health Care Financing and Health Care Regulations and he is committed to realizing his health care vision of a healthy TCI Population.
During his 11years at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Ewing was a member of many Boards by virtue of his position as CMO and also served as Chairman of the Health Practitioners’ Board, Public and Environmental Health Board, National Insurance Medical Board and Director of the Caribbean Health Research Council (CHRC).
Dr. Ewing is a member of a number of Health NGOs providing support to them in particular the National cancer Society, Diabetes Association and the Turks and Caicos Heart foundation. He is a Founding Member and Director of the Turks and Caicos AIDS Awareness Foundation.
Dr. Ewing upon his return home in 2001 was given permission by the Executive Council to operate a Private Medical Practice, Omnicare, which he shared with his wife since 2002. Through this practice he has been able to provide service to the wider TCI public who were not keen on attending government facilities. Through this practice Dr. Ewing has also been able to provide outreach health care services to the community in particular sporting organizations and Churches.
The Public Service and Civil Rights Leader
After the suspension of the TCI constitution and the imposition of direct rule from Britain, Dr. Ewing became frustrated by the policy direction of the Interim Administration and the manner in which policies and laws were being introduced and enacted, which had a significant negative impact on the lives of citizens in general and Civil Servants in particular. Dr. Ewing considered resignation from the service in late 2010 but decided to stay in the Service to help fight against the policies that he considered detrimental to the welfare of citizens and Civil Servants and to protect the rights of Civil Servants. In November of 2010 Dr. Ewing and a few Civil Servants formed a working group to revitalize the dormant Civil Service Association (CSA), which was revitalized on January 6, 2011 with the election of the CSA’s management Council with Dr. Ewing as President.
The CSA under the Leadership of Dr. Ewing had ongoing negotiations and dialogue with the Interim Administration to prevent the implementation of policies which they thought were not in the best interest of Civil Servants and the country. The Administration’s failure to address fairly the issues of salaries, allowances, pensions and gratuities and redundancy of Civil Servants lead the CSA to several industrial actions and improvement of some benefits in the interest of Civil Servants.
In August of 2011, Dr. Ewing, frustrated by the actions of the Interim Administration led a one man demonstration against the Governor and his Advisory Council demanding their resignation and the imposition of a democratically elected government. Just prior to this action Dr. Ewing submitted his letter of resignation to the Ministry of Health with an effective date of March 30, 2012. This gave him greater comfort and freedom to speak out against the injustices of the Interim Administration. Dr. Ewing continued his work with the CSA defending the rights of Civil Servants until his resignation from the Civil Service on March 30, 2012.