Thursday, April 25, 2013

Private hospital addresses financial concerns

Kingston, Jamaica: It is a fact well known that the cost of healthcare in any country is of astronomical proportions and Jamaica in particular faces the brunt of this reality. While the Jamaican government has attempted to provide greater access to care through the implementation of free healthcare to the public, private hospitals increasingly assume a greater role in the delivery of medical services. But public hospitals are not the only ones that face financial challenges as private healthcare specialists also battle to sustain standards.
Nuttall Memorial Hospital is one such institution which knows the significance of external funding toward its operations and is taking a bold step toward raising funds. The institution’s 5K Road Race scheduled for Saturday, May 11 is part of a $250 million drive to raise funds over a two year period to refurbish the hospital. 
Jamaica's private hospitals have come under financial pressure in recent years, hit by rising costs and the public’s growing inability to afford their services. For hospitals like Nuttall, the need for constant maintenance and upgrading of equipment at the expense of other operating costs threatens operational efficiency. 
Nuttall faces the continuous challenge of maintaining high medical standards whilst operating with an aged plant. According to Harvey Levers, CEO of Nuttall Memorial Hospital, “in the absence of tax payer support from the public purse, private funding is an absolute necessity for private institutions during the growth phase of their existence.” 
Levers also points out the need for private care as a viable option for much of Jamaica’s population. “Private hospitals and Nuttall in particular continue to serve a large segment of the population. This segment could not be easily accommodated within the already over-burdened public system, and a choice of acceptable private healthcare is therefore needed as an option here in Jamaica,” said Levers. 
Levers continues to explain the contribution that private hospitals make to the country’s economy. “Several years ago it was a common practice for many of our more affluent citizens to seek medical care overseas. This practice added to the list of items that caused a drain on our foreign exchange reserves. 
“Today, many of those same patients who years ago would fly overseas for medical care are now realising and accepting that they can access comparable treatment at a much lower cost right here in Jamaica. This change in habit does save the country a significant amount of foreign exchange,” he continued.

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