UHWI, UWI team up for completion of hospital’s overhaul

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, January 29, 2017

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The University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) is partnering with the University of the West Indies (UWI) for major improvements in patient care and delivery at the Mona-based institution this year.


The UWI and the generic UHWI have a standing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) since the hospital was formerly opened in 1953, under which UHWI facilitates teaching, research, and patient care to support the Faculty of Medical Sciences at UWI’s Mona Campus.


The MOU provides funding for the hospital to improve areas of cooperation as well as services offered to patients across the island. The partnership has led to an integrated health management system to manage all of the clinical entities of the university’s Mona Campus, where the principal also sits on the hospital board.


Several major changes are expected at the hospital, including an integrated hospital information management system that will improve record keeping and general management of the hospital. This will be important for increasing the number of international patients. An international patient office has been established and the hospital has started to attract a number of international patients.


The second major effort is the redevelopment of the physical infrastructure of the hospital, instead of refurbishing because of the lack of success from several efforts at refurbishing an aged 1950 building. This will encompass not only the buildings but also modernising the equipment.


Among the areas to receive emergency attention is surgery, for which the hospital will be purchasing new equipment.


"Surgery is becoming a non-invasive, interventional technology – radiology, cardiology, neurology, and vascular which is less exposure or what we call percutaneous (a non-surgical procedure that improves blood flow to your heart), are done through the skin," Chairman of the Medical Committee of the UHWI Dr Carl Bruce explained.


"We no longer have to open up the patient for surgery. We are starting to implement the interventional suite and hope to begin soon. We will also be opening new operating theatres, a neo-natal unit, diagnostic centre, and adolescent psychiatry unit by the second quarter of this year," he stated.


"We have begun the purchasing of equipment and this will help to reposition UHWI in the health sector and Caribbean, as the best in class equipment and critical care," Dr Bruce added.


He said that the hospital is also in the process of sourcing from a Netherlands-based company — Phillips International — equipment that will be used for early detection of breast cancer.


By the third quarter of 2017, 3D mammography services will be offered to the public, as well.


The third strategy will be to increase bed capacity, a demand caused by the rising number of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).


The hospital will be increasing its intensive care bed capacity by 13, before the end of this quarter. Construction of this brand new intensive care unit will add to another eight-bed unit to be constructed in the surgical unit.


However, Dr Bruce said that despite the new additions to the 600-bed capacity at the hospital, there is still a severe shortage of critical care beds. Efforts will be made to implement a system that will see patients screened for admission, which will reduce bed capacity.


As part of the improvements strategy, a programme is being prepared to train and hire leading specialists in health care, using postdoctoral fellowships. This will be done through the Doctor of Medicine programme, which will incorporate the new technology at the hospital.


Dr Bruce added that the hospital will also be moving for international standard of care accreditation while, at the same time, incorporate policy-driven management using algorithms to standardise care and reduce cost.


The plan will also look at developing preventative maintenance in-house at UHWI and the UWI’s Monatech Biomedical engineering faculty.


UWI, Mona Principal, Professor Archibald McDonald, said that the partnership is seeking to improve operations at the hospital and the services it offers.


"UHWI is the premier hospital in the Caribbean region. It functions not only to offer patient services, but also to train region wide students in medicine and other healthcare professionals," Professor McDonald said.


"The improvements that we are collaborating on will increase the standard of care the hospital offers, as well as the quality of graduates that leave here and go back to their respective countries to improve their health sectors. We are happy to partner and look forward to full completion of the goals set out," he added.


UHWI, the largest teaching hospital in the region and the largest hospital in Jamaica, has been the trailblazer in facilitating advanced medical technology and research.


The University Hospital also provides work experience for students from tertiary and secondary institutions. In addition, data collection to fulfil academic assignments is facilitated.


One of the main goals of the hospital is to provide excellence in patient care. The UHWI has all the clinical specialities of a modern teaching hospital, including an Addiction Treatment Services Unit (ATSU, former Detoxification Unit), the Centre for HIV/AIDS Research, Education and Services (CHARES), Dietetics, Medical Social Work, Physiotherapy, Pharmacy, Public Health, Cardiology, Pulmonary and Radiology.


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