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PM outlines ambitious timeframe for health care plans

By Gideon Aurelien

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Chastanet

(SNO) – As the main Opposition St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) and its allies apply pressure on the government to complete St. Jude Hospital and open the Owen King European Union (OKEU) Hospital, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet announced an ambitious timeframe in which he expects major projects earmarked for the healthcare system to materialize.

The prime minister said that government plans to have a White Paper out by late September into October of this year on the structure of the country’s health care with a final agreement by year-end.

With regards to the new health insurance plan for all citizens, now being mooted by his government, Chastanet said he would like to see new regulations drafted and approved in parliament before May or June of next year and implementation of that insurance by end of 2019.

But he warns that large sums of money would be needed in order to bring the country’s health care system into one of quality and profitability that all St. Lucians would be proud of.

He pointed to the cost attached to the opening and operating the OKEU Hospital, a cost he described as “significant” hovering around $70 million.

The prime minister then shed light on the connection between his government and Cayman Health City and other health related entities that showed interest in working with the government regarding the OKEU Hospital.

Noting it was not a secret his administration had been in discussion with Cayman Health City regarding managing the operations of the OKEU Hospital, the prime minister said the health group was the only entity to have proposed a joint venture approach with government.

“Everyone else who has come to the table wants a management contract,” Chastanet said, adding that the group made an initial proposal to government which government is now finalizing the terms and reference of.

The prime minister said that one of the basic proposals made by Cayman Health City was whether OKEU Hospital was going to be a secondary level hospital, meaning that all services at Victoria Hospital to be transferred to the OKEU.

He said that the proposal presented a situation having to do with beds. Victoria Hospital is a 170 bed facility while the OKEU Hospital can hold up to 120 beds. The dilemma is that people are expecting the OKEU Hospital to hold more beds than Victoria Hospital. Government is now faced with what to do with the extra beds coming out of Victoria Hospital if that hospital is closed down.

The prime minister admits that here are options on the table to deal with that scenario. One such option is to transform the Mental Wellness Center into a new Victoria Hospital since the space in that facility is grossly under-utilized. He was quick to note though that this was a preliminary option with no decision being taken.

“The assumption all along is that Victoria will be shut down. How do you shut down Victoria when it is 170 beds and to move to OKEU with 120 beds? But more importantly, the cost of maintaining a bed at OKEU is going to be four or five times more expensive than operating a basic bed at Victoria. So the proposal is to look at OKEU as a tertiary health care system, providing services that currently don’t exist in St. Lucia. The reality is that St. Lucia’s population cannot sustain a tertiary level hospital by itself. The only way St. Lucia can be in a position to afford to have a tertiary level hospital is through medical tourism,” Chastanet said.

But the question remains: Can St. Lucia provide high enough quality tertiary level services at the OKEU Hospital at globally competitive prices that people the world over would come to instead of going elsewhere?

The prime minister admitted that the Cayman group did make a proposal to government of converting the OKEU Hospital into a tertiary level facility.

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6 comments

  1. People have been waiting with bated breath to find out about universal health care and in particular the health care provision at OKEU, yet there is no response or analysis of the PM’s article. Why is that?

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  2. the worst decision that can be made by any government is to price their population out of something as fundamental as health care. the UK government understands that, so healthcare is free. there must be an excellent public hospital such as what st judes used to be a very long time ago. you cannot privatise everything, especially healthcare. and if it is that st judes must be reconstructed to make it what the SLP and the others failed to do, then so be it.

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  3. "The dilemma is that people are expecting the OKEU Hospital to hold more beds than Victoria Hospital. Government is now faced with what to do with the extra beds coming out of Victoria Hospital if that hospital is closed down." This is a situation y'all created. There was supposed to be another wing built (as per the design) and your government, under Stephenson King, killed it! So, deal with it!

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  4. Verse of the Day

    August 23

    2 Corinthians 12:9-10

    9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

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  5. This man has lost all his credibility. Just speaks off his head.
    Time and time again his pronouncements are very economical in being truthful.
    Sad sad .

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  6. It would be wise to not make promises if it can’t be keep. So many promises being made with just a few actually coming to fruition. Remember, it does not take 9 women to have a baby in one month. So please let’s be a little bit more cautious with promises that might never materialize.

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