The Ministry of Health and Wellness has signed contracts with four private health facilities in St. James to perform elective surgeries that have been delayed in the public health system due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic priorities.

The contracts, totaling approximately $70 million, will see some 200 patients receiving hernia, prostate and hysterectomy surgeries by the end of 2022.

Hospiten, GWest Medical and Surgery Centre, Montego Bay Hospital and Baywest Wellness Hospital have partnered with the Ministry to perform the procedures and provide recovery spaces.

The pilot intervention is being conducted under a special initiative called ‘CODE CARE,’ which is aimed at clearing the backlog of elective surgeries in hospitals. Portfolio Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, said that the intervention will benefit patients who have been waiting a long time to have their surgeries done.

“We’re not applying any discrimination except that if they are the longest waiting, the longest-suffering, we’re going to take them first and schedule them based on a contractual arrangement with private entities in the west,” he said.

He was speaking at the signing ceremony at the Western Regional Health Authority’s (WRHA) Regional Technical Office at Freeport in Montego Bay, St. James on Friday (September 16). Minister Tufton informed. that the public-private partnership forms part of a three-pronged approach by the Government to reduce the back log of elective surgeries across the island.

SHORT TERM NURSES

Dr. Tufton noted that the next phases will see the Government working with healthcare professionals, particularly operating theatre nurses across the diaspora, who will travel to the island on short stints for specialised surgeries.

“I went on a programme in the United States two months ago in four states, visiting seven health systems, to pitch the idea of [establishing] Memoranda of Understanding with these institutions.

“[We want] to get some of those nurses back in, maybe some surgeons too, but primarily, operating theatre nurses. That programme is germinating now,” the Minister said.

In addition, he noted that the Government plans to retrofit operating theatres at public health facilities islandwide, which will lead to more efficient throughput. He noted that the estimated expenditure is approximately $700 million.

“That assessment is now taking place and a lot of work is being done to deal with some of the missing parts to restructure, re-organise, etc.

The truth is, if we fix all the operating theatres and they work perfectly, we will increase throughout,” Minister Tufton said.

For his part, Clinical Coordinator at the WRHA, Dr. Delroy Fray, said the initiative will bring reprieve to critical patients, who have been unable to have their surgeries done for up to three years. He expressed gratitude to the private health care providers for partnering with the Government on the initiative.

“We are going to see how best between now and December we can put a big dent into the backlog of these cases. I believe this would be great for the people of Western Jamaica and we can use this now as a template for the entire country,” he said.

“I want to thank you all for your participation and the quick response that you have given to us over the past week in order to get this thing off the ground,” Dr. Fray added.