With the demand for dialysis treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) outstripping its ability to supply the service, the institution has announced plans to expand its partnership with a local private clinic.
Acting Minister of Health Donville Inniss said this afternoon that the existing partnership with Sils Dialysis Barbados would be broadened, so that the number of kidney patients which that facility treats on behalf of the QEH – currently 25 –, could be increased.
Inniss said Sils Dialysis has so far not only relieved the hospital of some of the pressure, but has allowed it to reduce the costs of treating those people.
“Since this model has worked so well, the Ministry of Health is actively considering expanding the arrangement to increase the numbers that Sils can take care of, while at the same time, from the overall Government’s perspective, see what we can do to work closely with Mr Lambert [Sils chairman Kurt Lambert] and his team to expand a facility that can cater to a larger number of dialysis patients,” he told reporters at the end of a tour of the clinic located on the corner of 3rd Avenue and Pine Road, Belleville, St Michael.
“The reality is the QEH cannot meet the demand in this particular area; certainly not with the numbers and the amount of hours that one has to be on dialysis machines.”
Inniss said that was not to negate the importance of addressing the root cause, which is the lifestyle of Barbadians.
“So I wouldn’t want any one to believe that our focus on addressing this issue would be exclusively on expanding dialysis services,” he insisted, adding that the ministry would continue to tackle the issue of how the country could avoid citizens reaching that stage.
“We will chip away at it one person at a time to ensure that we ultimately get to the stage where Barbadians are living the right kind of lifestyle that can help us address a lot of these major health challenges that we face,” asserted Inniss.
Chief Executive Officer of the QEH, Dr Dexter James revealed that the partnership with Sils was a five-year arrangement under a preferential rate.
“The rate is far lower than we could dialyse our patients at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and it speaks to the whole issue of how a health system needs to finance itself. Private/public partnership is one of those models that we have to adopt. It is the way of expanding the range of services . . . The public system cannot do it by itself and, particularly with patients with renal problems where the numbers are increasing, it will be impossible for us to manage more than 176 patients, which we currently manage at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital,” James said.
As a result, he said, the QEH would either have to expand its own unit in another facility or find a provider outside.
James said he was extremely satisfied with the arrangements at Sils Dialysis.
“Sils Dialysis provides us with monthly reports on the condition of the patients; they provide us with an annual report . . . We are satisfied that the water treatment systems and the necessary regular blood works for the patients are done,” he added. “
James also disclosed that after two years of operations, not a single kidney patient had died at Sils.
Medical Manager of Sils Jules Reid said that the company has so far this year treated 500 patients, including some from overseas.
She also announced that the clinic was planning to build a modern facility that would allow it to accommodate more patients.