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Saint Lucia to Develop Referral System

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sharon Belmar-George
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sharon Belmar-George

The Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs has engaged the services of Meirovich Consulting to assist with the development of a referral system in health care facilities.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sharon Belmar-George spoke on the level of support that Meirovich Consulting will be providing to ensure this initiative is a success.

“They will be working with our technical officers within the Ministry of Health, our other stakeholders like the Fire Service, the private health care sector, our patients who are very important stakeholders in the process will also be consulted on how the system works for them and what they would like to see as well. They are very important stakeholders in how we improve on the referral process. So during the assessment period, they will be looking at what currently exist in our system, they will be doing a lot of visits of our various healthcare programs as well and looking at the various gaps ensuring that we can put a system so that we can have an integrated health system.”

Dr. Sharon Belmar-George says this initiative is extremely important given the gaps identified in the health care system.

“We note the deficiency in the transfer of patient care from one sector to another. For example, our primary care unit which is our wellness centres to the secondary care which is the hospitals. We note that when patients are transferred for care, there isn’t that integration of care which is necessary and then patients are transferred back into our primary care setting. We also see it when patients access care with the private setting and the public sector. That affects the quality of care that the patient receives as their healthcare provider is not fully informed of what care, what management that they received when they get care out of one sector or not.”

Minister for Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs Hon. Moses Jn Baptiste emphasized on the need to establish a referral mechanism as to ensure quality health care is delivered to clients.

15 “When patients present at our primary care facilities like our health and wellness centres and they see our medical professionals, it is very key for us to be able to determine where these patients are referred, who they are referred to for additional care or for specialized care and why these patients are being referred. We also need to be able to track our patients throughout the healthcare system in Saint Lucia. When they go to the primary healthcare facilities, what kind of advice are the medical professionals giving to them and are they taking that advice, are they following up with the referral and how do we tie in all of this into our databases in Saint Lucia, whether it be at the hospitals, at the OKEU or St. Jude Hospital or at our primary healthcare facilities like our health and wellness centres.”

The assessment activity with Meirovich Consulting included focus groups discussions, visits to various healthcare facilities and stakeholder meetings, to name a few.  – Fernelle Neptune

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