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Health Ministry implements reforms to increase effectiveness and efficiency in health services


by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Ministry of Health continues its work on improving healthcare in St. Kitts, as was a mandate announced by Prime Minister Dr Terrance Drew.


In that regard, several healthcare sector reforms have been deployed to develop the healthcare industry.


Dr Jenson Morton, Director of Health Institutions, shared some of the reforms during the April 05 broadcast of Infocus, which includes continuous customer service training for everyone working at the hospitals, from doctors and nurses to administration and management.


“The first thing we thought was really crucial- the feedback from different members of the general public, the main complaint that seems to come with regard to healthcare in St. Kitts in General, it can be boiled down to different aspects of customer service. That was identified early, and we have already started partnerships with the relevant bodies to get customer service training onboard. It started formally finally a few weeks ago with Mrs Delcia Bradley-King, and it is going to be something that we’re going to incorporate into the regular, let’s call it, indoctrination process of everyone that comes to work at JNF [Joseph Nathaniel France]. We are also in discussion with CFBC [Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College] to ensure that that aspect is also included with the nursing training even before you arrive at JNF such that that aspect is well ingrained.”


Additionally, basic life support and advanced cardiovascular life support training have been provided for 220 staff; some in basic life support, some in advanced cardiovascular life support and others in pediatric assistance life support.


Dr Morton also explained some changes implemented at the Pogson and Mary Charles Hospitals, which he says were underutilised.


“The peripheral hospitals, Pogson and Mary Charles, they were not being adequately utilised because they were not staffed with medical doctors around the clock. When I was there, and I worked in the community, the doctor was just on-call, meaning nursing staff would be in the hospital, and then you would have to call the doctor for anything that’s of a certain level of seriousness. That’s not something easier to manage. That did not allow for state-of-the-art quality healthcare to be available to [people] that lived in the rural areas. It was either you have to come to JNF for everything, or you go to Pogson, and it’s either a long wait, or you have to hope that the doctor happens to be there at that time if they were called already, or something like that. Investigations were done to find out exactly how many doctors would be needed to outfit each of the two peripheral facilities, and we were able to find enough to be able to get that service available in Pogson, which was started on October 5. The Sandy Point community and the surrounding communities they’ve been very happy since we’ve had the service running.”


The Director of Health Institutions admitted that this reform had some issues.


“We’ve had a few hiccups – it’s a pilot project – there have been some hiccups in which once in a blue moon, there might be an issue with regards to the service, but we have tried our hardest to get 24-hour service there, and we’ve been able to achieve that for most weeks, most months we’ve been able to achieve that with only one or two minor hiccups along the way.”


As it relates to equipment, the government invested in purchasing equipment for eyes surgery that had been halted in June 2022 because of malfunctioning equipment, which included a US$700,000 Ophthalmic operating microscope, an Ophthalmic ultrasound, computer systems, software, surgical equipment, anaesthetic equipment for eye surgery and more.


“We’re just doing the final bit of configuring, and we going to get that back up and running within the next few days. So that was the major purchase that we did. Apart from that, we were able to source new dialysis machines, which have been put into operation, and the staff have been fully trained with regard to the utilisation of these new dialysis machines. And we also would have made a variety of other purchases of a number of different pieces of equipment that we needed as necessary. We were able to configure equipment to reintroduce mammography into the hospital, that’s, to do mammograms or studies to screen for breast cancer. It was something that had not been done for quite a few years. You had to get it done privately – it was ordered – but we were able to get it configured. We’re just in the final bits of the difficult times with regard to the technical aspects with regard to the computer software and those things. And then that should also be up and running shortly. We’ve even been able to get most recently the donation of some more ultrasound machines from PAHO as well as from the Swiss Embassy which should be up and running shortly, as well.” – Dr Jenson Morton, Director of Health Institutions in the Ministry of Health.



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