Falmouth Public General Hospital Jamaica
Healthy families living in healthy communities
Business View Caribbean interviews Princess Wedderburn, CEO of Falmouth Public General Hospital, Jamaica, for our focus on excellence in Caribbean healthcare.
Located along the busy north coast corridor in northwest Trelawny, Falmouth Public General Hospital is one of four hospitals in the Western Region which fall under the umbrella of the Jamaica Ministry of Health. The facility was opened in 1954 and sits on approximately 13 acres of land. In 2007, two new surgical theatres were built at a cost of $350 million Jamaican dollars. Today, guided by the vision statement: “Healthy families living in healthy communities,” the hospital caters to Trelawny’s population of approximately 75,000 people, as well as non-nationals and clients from adjoining parishes.
On October 5, 2018, the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with Regional Health Authorities, launched the Compassionate Care Programme to improve customer relations, ambience, and comfort of the clients. As Chief Executive Officer of Falmouth Public General Hospital, Miss Princess Wedderburn knows well the hospital’s achievements, challenges, and commitment to excellence in health care. Miss Wedderburn recently shared her knowledge and insights on the subject with Business View Caribbean Magazine. The following is an edited transcript of her comments.
BVC: Can you describe the overall operations of Falmouth Hospital?
Wedderburn: “There are 306 staff employed to cover the various categories. The facility is headed by the Chief Executive Officer. The Senior Medical Officer and Director of Nursing Services are also part of the administrative team leaders, supported by the Medical Imaging Practitioner, Chief Medical Technologist, Dietitician, Hospital Administrator, and Health Records Administrator. There are six wards: Male Surgical, Female Surgical, Male Medical, Female Medical, Children’s, Maternity and Observation Unit.
“Today, we are happy to be working closely with the Cornwall Regional Hospital team. Due to the air quality issue currently plaguing the Cornwall Regional Hospital, their Intensive Care Unit (I.C.U), Operating Theatre, 7 East ward, 5 East ward, and Med Surge were transferred to the Falmouth Hospital. The Falmouth Hospital bed capacity is 86. With the addition of the Cornwall Regional Hospital wards, the capacity has increased to approximately 170. In addition, we cater to the needs of approximately 31 social cases at the Icy Allen Wing at the Falmouth Infirmary. Pharmacy services is a collaboration with the National Health Fund. The buildings are disbursed and linked by corridors. We operate an outpatient clinic in surgical, dermatology, obstetrics, and gynaecology.”
BVC: Have patient numbers changed significantly over the years?
Wedderburn: “Our health records performance data for the years 2014 – 2018 showed incremental increases/decreases over the period with reference to the number of patients accessing our facility yearly. Careful examination of the data revealed:
- Total admissions over the five-year period showed a 22% increase, with a yearly incremental increase in the number of patients accessing the facility.
- Medicine, one of the most active areas, showed a 21% increase over the period.
- Total deliveries indicated a 24.4% increase.
- Accident & Emergency (A&E) visits fluctuated.
- Surgeries. The main surgical cases that are being done at the facility include General Surgeries, Obstetrics, and Gynaecology. When combined, there is a 21% increase in surgical cases done across the board.
- Motor Vehicle Accidents (MVAs) are of great concern to us at the facility and ultimately the nation. Looking at the five-year data, there is a 21% increase in that area.
“There is an interest in communicating with the public how valuable the health sector is to the community. In recent years, a client charter was developed for the hospital outlining the rights and responsibilities of the clients and facility, the basic service delivery, and complaint mechanism.”
BVC: What services does the hospital provide?
Wedderburn: “The Falmouth Public General Hospital is the only hospital in the parish, with one-shop-stop offerings that may not be accessible to clients from private operators throughout the parish. The Services offered to our clients are: General Medicine, General Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Accident and Emergency (24 hour service), Pharmacy, Radiology, Laboratory, ECG (Electrocardiogram), Dietary, and Physical Therapy. The hospital is a government-run facility which offers free health care to its citizens. However, patients/clients who seek medical care, once they possess a health insurance card, the same would be utilized as the required.
“Our core values are: Integrity: We believe that honesty, transparency, strong moral principles, and high ethical standards are essential in every aspect of our business. We bring respect, openness and honesty to our encounters with patients, clients, families, and co-workers, and support the well-being of the communities we serve. We will have the courage to accept responsibility for all our actions.
“Caring: We treat those we serve and each other with kindness and compassion and strive to better understand and respond to the needs of a diverse community. Excellence: Only the best will do. We work as a team to bring experience, advanced technology, and best practices to bear in providing the highest quality care for our patients, clients, and families. We devote ourselves to continuous quality improvement, excellence, professionalism, and innovation in our work.
“Commitment: We are passionate about implementing our organisation’s strategies to the best of our abilities and wholehearted commitment. Safety: Patients, clients, and families have placed their lives and health in our hands. We believe that maintaining the highest of safety standards is critical to delivering high quality care and that a safe workplace protects us all.”
BVC: Do partnerships play an important role in operations?
Wedderburn: “We partner with private providers in some service areas. For instance, in providing diagnostic services; most private health providers within the parish would seek to access such service from us. In addition, we are in the process of upgrading Radiology to use the Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) – medical imaging technology which provides economical storage and convenient access to images from multiple modalities. Once the imaging is done, radiologists could access the file and provide a detail report regarding the images seen.
“As a health care institution, we depend greatly on partnership and networking from organizations. We are strongly supported by Friends of the Falmouth Hospital and the Food for the Poor, Jamaica. From time to time, other private sector institutions, Non-Governmental organizations, small groups, and individuals would support the facility with well-needed donations that are utilized in providing health care.”
BVC: Are there any changes or upgrades planned for the near-term future?
Wedderburn: “The Falmouth Public General Hospital is classified as a Type C facility. A type C hospital would be seen as a referring hospital and interface greatly with the Primary Health Care System at the parish level. Inpatient and outpatient services are provided in general medicine, surgery, child, and maternity care; radiology, laboratory and pharmacy services are usually available at this facility. Also, there would be a specialist surgeon who would ensure the availability of emergency surgical services.
“Importantly, although Falmouth Public General Hospital is classified Type C, it is operating at a higher level. The Minister of Health & Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton, has indicated on numerous occasions, and in public forums, his intention of upgrading the facility to a Type B, where inpatient and outpatient services are provided in at least five basic specialties – in addition, paediatrics, orthopaedics and physiotherapy. Falmouth Hospital introduced specialist services in obstetrics and gynaecology in 2013, and is in the process of employing a pediatric consultant for the facility, and ultimately the parish of Trelawny.
“The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), in collaboration with the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, will be implementing an Energy Management and Efficiency Program at the Falmouth Public General Hospital. The works will cover the implementation of energy efficiency and renewable energy measures at the facility, which includes design, supply, installation, commissioning, and maintenance. Mobilization of the project was done in May 2019, and work is expected to be completed within twelve months.
“The Medical Records Unit is very manual, and urgent upgrading is needed for it to be automated. We are in the process of implementing the eTriage/ePAS System. This will assist in supporting the reduction of patient waiting time – an initiative championed by our Minister of Health and the management of the facility. We are hoping this milestone will be achieved within the financial year 2019/2020.”
BVC: What are the priorities for the future of Falmouth Hospital?
Wedderburn: “One of the most crucial areas needing attention is customer service. Research has shown that 80 percent of organizations, worldwide, are customer-service oriented. As a hospital, we are striving to be customer-centric in nature. Our desire is for our patients/clients to have a positive customer experience. Secondly, we would like to see the facility expanded in offering more advanced diagnostic services, such CT-Scan, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and other Laboratory Services to include more specific blood investigations that are not offered presently at the location.
“Thirdly, an expanded Obstetric and Gynecological Ward. For us, women and children are the ‘impetus’ of the nation. For the World Health Organization (WHO) maternal and child health is one of the indicators used to determine the health status of a nation. Note, the wellbeing of mothers, infants, and children further helps to determine the health of the next generation and can also help to predict future public health challenges to families, communities, and the health care system. Fourthly, there is a great need to introduce orthopedics and physiotherapy at the facility. We believe that all aspects of health care should be accessible to citizens within their geographical reach.
“Our aim is to improve ‘quality of care’ in all aspects. This has to do with the extent to which health care services provided to individuals and patient populations improve the desired health outcomes. The population of Trelawny is growing rapidly. More than three new housing developments have taken place, along with one of the largest shipping piers on the island. Therefore, one can safely say we will continue to expect more persons to access health care at our facility.”
Falmouth Public General Hospital Performance Data 2014-2018
|A & E Visits||25,772||25,764||30097||28,543||27,486|
AT A GLANCE
Who: Falmouth Public General Hospital, Jamaica
What: Full-service hospital; part of the Western Regional Health Authority
Where: Falmouth, Parish of Trelawny, Jamaica