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MHMC to Roll Out Improvement Projects in Coming Months

By Marvlin Anthony
MHMC CEO Dexter James
MHMC CEO Dexter James

The Millennium Heights Medical Complex (MHMC) invited journalists for a tour of the facility last week to provide an update on its progress (including the advancements it has made in technology) as well as issues plaguing the facility.

During the tour, Chief Executive Officer of MHMC, Dexter James and journalists discussed the way forward for the Complex, with James stating that the Board of Directors is committed to delivering “people centered care”.

“Patients must be part of that experience,” James said, noting that “we’ve seen improvements in wait times for non-urgent care.”

“We want to hear from the public so that we could take steps to improve what we do. When the public (provides) feedback we’re able to take corrective actions. This is not a board or a management  that is thin skinned, this is why we feel we could face the media,” he stated.

The Millennium Heights Medical Complex has taken on a number of projects of late, all designed with patients in mind.

According to James, the MHMC is focused on giving patients the best possible care; MHMC is the leading secondary healthcare institution in the country, with a wide range of services available to the entire citizenry and visitors. The Complex comprises the Owen King EU Hospital (OKEU), National Mental Wellness Centre, Turning Point Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre and the Secondary Care Hospital.

“Many times, when persons complain about a good or bad experience it’s (about) our waiting time generally.  It’s about the level of interaction between our doctors and nurses so we have a lot of work to do in that area to be able to move forward, but generally you don’t hear about quality of care issues … and perhaps that’s why our satisfaction rate is maybe at 79%.  So we have to work on… the net promoter score and the ability or the consideration for those who receive care to be able to promote the good will of the institution,” James said.

Bed occupancy is still a major issue at OKEU. In fact, when we toured the facility last year, James said that was a major problem. In 2024, it is still foremost on their list of challenges.

“We have a serious problem with bed management. We’ve moved from 150 beds at Victoria Hospital… to 120 beds (at OKEU). Care provided in the wrong setting is another challenge. Close to 20 to 25% of the patients who present here are really better served at the primary care network but when they present to our emergency room we have to see them. These are the ones who would stay three or four hours and then complain down the road. It’s kind of a love-hate relationship,” James said.

“They love it because they get the diagnostic etc. and they leave, but they hate it because they had to stay for four hours. These patients should be at our primary care network because when they come to our hospital and emergency department we have to divert resources to take care of them. It then prevents our staff from taking care of critically ill patients so we are really asking the public to utilize the primary care network for primary medical conditions,” he added.

This was another issue in 2023, James pointed out.

Another issue, he said, is the rising cost of drugs and medical supplies. Also, patients not showing up for appointments.

“We’ve seen within recent times a high level of no shows for appointments at our outpatient clinics. This creates a waste of resources for us. Almost 30% of the patients that have bookings or appointments at our outpatient clinics don’t show up. It’s a high number so we’re asking,  where on occasion you’re not able to make to your appointment , try and notify us at the earliest so we could either rebook someone or rebook your appointment,” James said.

“There are some factors  that are outside our control. The rising cost of drugs and medical supplies ,for instance. We do not control the cost, whatever the market says it is we have to accept the price. Almost every month when we receive an invoice of drugs and medical supplies they are all increasing,” he added.

On the flip side, James noted, the MHMC is currently working on an improvement project that is expected to roll out within the next two months. The MHMC is also working on building a separate entity for individuals to lodge their complaints, he revealed.

Said James: “We know some patients fear that their future care might be compromised and therefore may not want to lodge a complaint. So we’re creating this entity which is outside of us with its own governance ,that will be the watchdog for what is happening here so patients and the public who have concerns that they want to raise, if you feel uncomfortable coming to us you could go to that independent body and lodge your complaint and then they would pass it on to us.”

A number of the hospital’s wings will also be upgraded. Bank of Saint Lucia has teamed up with the MHMC to transform the kids’ unit which will feature a library, playroom and TV room amongst others.

An ATM machine will also be installed at Millennium Heights in the near future.

“The package of services that we currently provide is estimated to cost close to 90 million dollars, believe it or not. This is why the media and civil society must have a say (on how) taxpayers’ dollars are spent. Ninety million dollars is a lot of money for one institution and therefore we require you to be able to give us your feedback on ways in which we could improve what we do here,” James said.

“We are required to keep the plant in a good state of repair and make sure we have a modern plant befitting of a tertiary care facility. This requires capital to be able to change our equipment every four or five years so technology is one of those areas we have to address,” he added.

Further, he noted, the board “is at an advanced stage of putting regulations in place for what we call admitting privileges and what those regulations would allow is for doctors in the private sector and elsewhere to pay to use our theaters and operate on patients privately. This privilege will therefore expand capacity in the country. In so doing, we could serve as the barometer for keeping healthcare costs down. This is not about profit for us. Yes, we will make some revenue, but our motive is much more noble because we want to get to a stage where every single citizen, if they so desire to exercise the choice of private care, must be able to access that care at a reasonable cost.”

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