WRHA health official proposes more public, private partnerships
Clinical psychologist Dr Delroy Fray at the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA) said if the government is able to forge a partnership with private healthcare providers to use their operating theatre and radiology services healthcare delivery would be elevated to first-world standard in the region and by extension the country.
Fray noted that partnerships, such as what he is proposing would serve as an expansion and a continuation of others that have recently been forged, in the past, such the disbursement of prescription medicine at public pharmacies islandwide through the National Health Fund and most recently the CODE CARE programme. However, he noted that this one is more critical on the basis of what is happening now where surgeries and CP MRI are concerned at Cornwall Regional Hospital in St. James and at Falmouth Hospital in Trelawny where surgeries had tumour and trauma cases for the most part.
Between those two hospitals, The Gleaner has learnt that there are four operating theatres that are shared equally and are operating in fragments with high downtimes based on their composition and structural designs.
“My analysis over the past year is that even if I were able to get those four operating theatres running efficiently, 24 hours a day, I would not be able to fulfil the requirements for the elective cases. And these are cases that are not urgent, so we must develop a partnership with the private sector where their operating theatres, we are able to access them and do these things for our patients,” Fray said.
The public, private partnership, valued at approximately $70 million was introduced as an intervention pilot under a special initiative called ‘CODE CARE’, which is aimed at clearing the backlog of elective surgeries in hospitals aimed at benefiting some 200 patients receiving hernia, prostate and hysterectomy surgeries at Hospiten, GWest Medical and Surgery Centre, Montego Bay Hospital and Baywest Wellness Hospital, all based in St James.
“In fact, the orthopaedic ward [at Cornwall Regional Hospital] now is overwhelmed with men sitting down with broken legs [where surgery] needs to be done. If I get all the operating theatres going, those guys will seal this slot every day and have no chance to do these elective cases, therefore, we have to strike that partnership,” Fray explained.
There are approximately 10 operating theatres, at Hospiten, GWest Medical and Surgery Centre, Montego Bay Hospital, Baywest Wellness Hospital, and at the Omega Medical Hospital in Negril which, Fray said, have latest facilities including a suite of radiology equipment and services.
In relation to the provision of diagnostic services, in large hospitals in first-world countries, he said those are being delivered through private, public partnership agreements.
“From my experience, I believe we should give our radiological services to private providers, bring in a private person into the hospital, let them set up the diagnostic,” said Fray who noted that the template for such an arrangement is already done, pointing to a similar arrangement at the May Pen Hospital in Clarendon where a private person is allowed to set up their CP MRI on the compound and run its operation.
“The beauty of having that is the fact that the downtime is very minimal so you have continuity of service,” he added
Principal at Omega Medical Hospital, headquartered in Westmoreland, which had its soft opening recently, welcomed the idea of partnerships, especially those forged with the government as part of dispensing healthcare services at a world-class standard to all Jamaicans.
“We would be more than happy to enter into a private /public partnership. This is an opportunity to assist the government in providing services including diagnostic imaging and surgeries, which at times carry with it additional stress on the public health system,” Dolton James, chief executive officer, Omega Medical Hospital told The Gleaner in response to Fray’s appeal.
“Ultimately, this is beneficial for the community, as we have the resources available to bolster the level of healthcare delivery in the region,’’ he added.