MONTEGO BAY, St James — Clinical coordinator for the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA) Dr Delroy Fray is praising the newly implemented CODE CARE programme by the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW).
According to Dr Fray, CODE CARE, which was implemented to reduce the backlog of elective surgeries in the country, has greatly benefited patients living in the western region since its implementation earlier 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.
Approximately $70 million is being spent to facilitate the arrangement in western Jamaica.
The clinical coordinator noted that through the initiative, more than 100 patients who spent years on the Cornwall Regional Hospital’s (CRH) waiting list have had successful surgeries done through this public-private partnership. He told the Sunday Observer that he has since signed off on additional surgeries to be carried out before the end of this year.
“CODE CARE is one of the best innovations I have seen, after working in the Government service for 37 years, to help people in the public sector who were on a waiting list to have their surgery done,” Dr Fray told the Jamaica Observer.
Pointing out that the health ministry was forced to scale back on non-COVID-related emergencies last year as the country grappled with a spike in cases of the virus, the clinical coordinator said that this waiting list also grew longer.
Dr Fray further told the Sunday Observer that after consulting with Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, he was able to identify a group of patients with severe health conditions needing emergency procedures to live a normal life.
“So patients needing surgeries for hernias, old men who have a catheter in, who need an operation to remove them, and young women with fibroids who were bleeding down their haemoglobin every month and need their surgery to address the problem, these were the main patients,” Dr Fray explained.
“There were many others who needed surgery, but couldn’t get it because it was not an emergency, so the minister of health contacted me and asked what the cases I would need to address at this point. I went back to the complaints that I got from the hospital and people who are on the waiting list, and I identified those areas,” the clinical coordinator added.
A proud Dr Fray explained that through CODE CARE, patients are prepared for surgery at CRH before being transported to one of the four participating private institutions.
“It is one of the best initiatives I have seen so far to help. These are people who are on the waiting list with no insurance and no financial support to help them otherwise. That is why this is so good,” he said.
Grateful for the implementation of CODE CARE is 81-year-old St James man Lloyd Griffiths who told the Sunday Observer that he has forgotten how long he has spent on the waiting list at Cornwall Regional. He has been living with a catheter for 21 years as he faces difficulty emptying his bladder.
Griffiths, who benefited from a transurethral resection of the prostate last Friday, said he is thankful for the assistance of the surgeons who carried out the procedure.
“I am not feeling any pain. I am feeling so good. I am giving thanks and praise to all of the people who assisted me. I am feeling a million times better than I used to feel,” he told the Sunday Observer.
The elderly man added, “I am glad for all the people who are helping to do these operations and I am asking the good Lord to have mercy and compassion on them. I wish them all the best.”
Stating that he also appreciates the kind gestures of a doctor whom he said took the time out to talk with him before surgery, Griffiths is now looking towards better days with a grateful heart.
“He told me to not be afraid and that he would take the best care of me, and that happened. Right now I am standing here and I feel so good. I am just waiting on the 30th of this month to take the tubes out. I hope that when the tubes come out I will have a flow again like when I was 16, but otherwise, I am feeling happy,” Griffiths said.
CODE CARE, the brainchild of the health ministry, 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.
Speaking in the House of Representatives in late October, Tufton stated that a little over $1 billion has so far been spent on the CODE CARE programme.
Responding to questions from the Opposition spokesman on health, Dr Morais Guy, Tufton then gave a breakdown of the spending. He shared that $80 million was spent to rehabilitate operating theatres; $200 million for public-private engagement; $223 million on equipment; $279 million for nursing mission; $154 million for additional staff hours (overtime); $23.5 million for project management; and $59 million on the communications component.
Tufton told Guy that $200 million was budgeted for the public-private surgical partnership component of the programme for the financial year 2022/23. He said that three contracts, totalling $23 million each, were entered into with three health facilities on the western end of the island. The three are Montego Bay Hospital and Urology Centre, Hospiten and GWest Corporation.
He also disclosed that each of the expected 1,200 hernia surgeries that are being outsourced under CODE CARE will cost $270,000. Additionally, he expects 400 surgeries for fibroids as well as plastic surgeries which he explained are corrective surgeries for, among others, accident and burn victims.
Under CODE CARE, the health ministry will also work with the Diaspora of health-care professionals who visit Jamaica for special surgery sessions to provide more efficient arrangements and access to hospital facilities and target elective surgeries with the longest wait.
Those surgeries include arthroplasty, undescended testis, and pterygium.