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Care with compassion - Health ministry aims to improve customer experience

Published:Saturday | September 22, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton (right) speaks to a patient in the renovated Accident and Emergency department at the Black River Hospital, at the launch of the new compassionate care programme last week.



Approximately 200 staff members at the Back River Hospital have been trained in customer service as part of the Ministry of Health’s push to improve customer care at public health facilities.


Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton says this is part of a new compassionate care programme, which was launched at the Black River Hospital in St Elizabeth last Thursday.


According to Tufton, an important part of the overall response to public health, is a mechanism to ensure that all public health employees begin to enhance, develop, build and strengthen a culture of customer service.


The compassionate care programme seeks to begin a process of emphasising the customer service component of public health and delivering care with compassion.


It comprises three components including training of staff in customer service and enhancing basic infrastructure such as the accident and emergency areas to ensure that patients wait in areas of comfort with pictorial messages of advice and encouragement.


The third component is volunteerism, which seeks to boost partnerships and engage Jamaicans in offering compassionate care with the supervision of staff.


Tufton said he is confident that the public health sector has been responding well despite the challenges.


He noted that in 2017, 1.8 million persons visited the health centres across the island, while 1.2 million persons accessed services at hospitals, with 185,000 spending an average of five days.


In addition Tufton pointed out that of the 185, 000 persons admitted to hospitals, the mortality rate was 4.5 per cent.


“In a country with so many challenges where you have an unusually high case of trauma, in one way or another; a country that has an unusually high case of non-communicable diseases all leading to one direction ultimately, the public health system.


“We (the public health system) are so heavily depended on, and I believe for the most part, we have risen to the challenges in providing good clinical care and the manifestation of that is in the statistics” said Tufton.


He argued that public perception of the public health system, which is not always based on personal experience, sometimes puts the public health system in a negative light.


“Oftentimes it is based on what people hear, what they see on the television because it only takes one dissatisfied person to create a national perception. It is a disservice to those who serve and who serve well.


“Too often, sometimes it’s not a patient issue but perhaps one worker who may have been frustrated that day and administered care in a manner that is uncaring and that perception is multiplied several times,” added Tufton.