Saint Lucia Ministry of Health to develop referral system
Saint Lucia Ministry of Health to develop referral system

Saint Lucia: Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs Ministry has engaged the services of Meirovich Consulting to assist with the development of a referral system within healthcare facilities.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Sharon Belmar-George explained that Meirovich Consulting would assess the current system with a view to improve efficiency.

“They will work with technical officers within the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders like the Fire Service and the private healthcare sector. Patients who are very important stakeholders in the process will 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 the referral process. During the assessment period, they will be looking at what currently exists, they will visit various healthcare programs, and they will look at the various gaps to ensure that we can have an integrated health system.”

Dr Sharon Belmar-George said this initiative is extremely important given the gaps identified in the healthcare 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 centre the secondary care which is the hospital. 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 have access to care in 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 Moses Jn Baptiste emphasized the need to establish a referral mechanism to ensure quality healthcare is delivered to clients.

“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 group discussions, visits to various healthcare facilities and stakeholder meetings, to name a few.