Code Care programme expansion under way — Tufton
Clinical coordinator for the WRHA, Dr Delroy Fray and Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton in dialogue during an update on the Code Care Programme, held at Hospiten Hospital last Friday. (Photo: Anthony Lewis)

ST JAMES, Jamaica — Memoranda of understanding (MOUs) are expected to be signed with at least three private hospitals in Kingston within the next two weeks as the health ministry expands its Code Care programme into the Corporate Area.

"In Kingston, there are three or four hospitals that we are now having conversations with. This includes the University Hospital, the Heart Institute and two others. Those discussions we hope will lead to the signing of similar MOUs to what we have done over here (in St James)," Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton said last Friday.

He was giving an update on the programme’s status since a $70-million pilot was rolled out in western Jamaica in September. The programme was launched with the participation of four private health facilities: Hospiten Hospital, Montego Bay Hospital and Urology Centre, Baywest and GWEST.

Code Care is designed to reduce wait time for elective surgeries to less than 180 days and to increase the number of surgeries conducted over the same period by at least 80 per cent, targeting about 2,000 surgeries over a 12-month period.

About 101 surgeries have been performed at facilities in western Jamaica since the pilot, with one patient dying as a result of respiratory issues.

"It is still a far cry from the 2,000 surgeries that we want to do to clear up the backlog but it is an indication that the process has started reasonably well," stated Tufton, who said the progress so far shows that the programme works.

Clinical coordinator for the Western Regional Health Authority, Dr Delroy Fray, agrees.

"The reviews that we have been getting are enormous. Can you imagine an individual who has in a catheter for six years? It is very uncomfortable; he has to change it every six weeks. It is very, very uncomfortable," Fray said of how patients have benefitted.

"That intervention that the minister did is going to go down in history as one of the greatest interventions to help poor people that need elective surgery. We have been working on weekends at private hospitals; zero cost to anybody. The Government paid for it. People must understand the importance of that," he added.

He said efforts are being made to add women with hysterectomies to the existing list that now includes prostate and hernia surgeries.

Tufton pointed out that a list is being compiled of the more than 200 people in the public health system who have long been waiting to have surgical procedures done.

For the programme’s expansion into the Corporate Area and beyond, the initiative will be coordinated by the Senior Medical Officer at the Spanish Town Hospital, Dr Jacqueline Wright-James.

Anthony Lewis

BY ANTHONY LEWIS , Observer writer

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