Sat | May 25, 2019

Biomedical gets Government’s first multimillion-dollar outsourcing contract

Published:Tuesday | May 14, 2019 | 12:25 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton enjoys a light moment with Barbara Hendriks, managing director of Biomedical Caledonia Medical Laboratory, after the signing of a $24.3-million contract between the Government and the laboratory to conduct microbiological tests for a period of six months. Permanent Secretary Dunstan E. Bryan (left) and director of health services, planning and integration in the ministry, Dr Simone Spence, look on.
Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton enjoys a light moment with Barbara Hendriks, managing director of Biomedical Caledonia Medical Laboratory, after the signing of a $24.3-million contract between the Government and the laboratory to conduct microbiological tests for a period of six months. Permanent Secretary Dunstan E. Bryan (left) and director of health services, planning and integration in the ministry, Dr Simone Spence, look on.

Biomedical Caledonia Medical Laboratory Limited yesterday became the first private company to receive a multimillion-dollar contract from the $1 billion earmarked by the Ministry of Health and Wellness for the outsourcing of diagnostic services in a bid to ease the backlog and long wait times at government-run facilities.

The $1-billion allocation will also be used for the transfer and care of social patients – persons who are sufficiently well to be discharged but who occupy hospital beds because they have not been reunited with their families.

The contract was signed at the ministry’s Grenada Way, New Kingston, offices for the sum of $24.3 million for an initial period of six months.

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton appealed during the signing ceremony to other entities that will be bidding to propose prices below market value as Biomedical has done.

Biomedical, formerly known as Caledonia Medical Laboratory, will carry out microbiological tests on a range of blood, bodily fluids and excreta. It will also conduct ear, eye, wound and sterility analysis.

The facilities it will serve are the Kingston Public Hospital, Bustamante Hospital, Victoria Jubilee Hospital, National Chest Hospital, Spanish Town Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital and Linstead Hospital.

FIRST ACCREDITED MEDICAL LABORATORY

Incorporated in 1969, Companies Office records show that Caledonia has as its directors Barbara Hendriks, the managing director; Helen Jeanne Christian; attorney-at-law Hyacinth Lightbourne, medical practitioner Edward Chung; and Linda Woolery.

According to Hendriks, who boasted yesterday that Biomedical was the first accredited medical laboratory in the island, having achieved that status in 2013, the entity is well equipped to undertake the task.

“We have the largest network of collection centres across the island. We have 64 collection centres where patients can go and get blood drawn, for example, and then it is transferred to the main lab for testing (in Kingston),” Hendriks told The Gleaner.

She was adamant that the entity could absorb the increased patient load rerouted from public hospitals.

“I know I have the capacity to accept government patients that the national public health system normally would be processing but can’t manage to do,” she said.

Hendriks declined to give details on the terms of the contract, but Dunstan Bryan, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, disclosed that the Government would underwrite the outsourced services at below-market rates.

“Within each test, it depends on the complexity of that particular test that the cost is accrued. The unit cost per test is what we negotiated, which is around 15 per cent off the market value that we’d normally get. We apply a volume discount method,” Bryan told The Gleaner yesterday afternoon, while revealing that the Government could extend Biomedical’s contract beyond the six-month window.

Therefore, the Government would receive a discount of $750, for semen analysis that would be billed at Biomedical at $5,000.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com