Wednesday 5 August, 2020

Cayman Health City consulting, not managing St Lucian hospital

The St Lucian government has been forced to clarify that Health City Cayman Islands won't be managing the Owen King European Union (OKEU) Hospital in St Lucia, despite rumours to the contrary.

“So, you have been hearing a lot that we want to privatise the hospital and give Cayman Health City the hospital to run and so forth. None of that is the case. We are negotiating a consultancy contract and by that, I mean they will be bringing in professionals and persons because they have the wherewithal and they know how to put in certain structures for hospital management and ensuring continuity,” said Nancy Charles, Director of Implementation in the Office of the Prime Minister.

Charles said that the Cayman Health City group will be assisting government with the Saint Lucians who will be hired for the job. The group, according to Charles, will teach and train the locals so that they can eventually manage the hospital on their own.

“No one from Cayman Health City will be coming to Saint Lucia to run or manage OKEU,” Charles reiterated.

She did admit that government has been in negotiation with Cayman Health City for a consultancy service “to assist us in putting a proper management structure at OKEU.”

Charles said that government is currently working on national health insurance and that the Ministry of Finance, together with the Caribbean Development Bank and the World Bank, have started a project in looking at how government can incorporate if not a full but a partial national health insurance plan.

She acknowledged that government is not where it wanted to be with regards to health care in the country, despite investing heavily in that sector.

“As it relates to St Jude and OKEU hospitals it has been very challenging in getting where we want to be,” she said.

The OKEU Hospital is currently partially open in that outpatient clinics are held there as well as dialysis. This did not impress a visiting high-level team from the European Union, which sponsored the hospital. The team, which toured the facility weeks ago, expressed its disappointment that the hospital was not fully functional after its completion some three or four years ago.

Some of the reasons given for the hospital’s current status are equipment gone bad - the air conditioning unit being one such equipment said to cause a delay in more being done to facilitate its opening - and the fact that legislation passed by the previous administration making OKEU and the Wellness Center into a statutory corporation called the Millennium Heights Complex that forces an examination of the legalities of moving public servants into a statutory corporation.

According to Charles, there could be legal ramifications transitioning Victoria Hospital staff, who are public servants, to the OKEU Hospital which is part of a corporation.

“You would have to make the necessary adjustments and arrangements to ensure that you take care of the staff and that people are not disadvantaged in any way when you have the transition,” Charles asserted.

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