Patient no-shows, a nursing shortage, the cost of drugs and medical supplies, and investing in modern technology are among the challenges facing the Millennium Heights Medical Complex (MHMC), of which the OKEU Hospital is a part.
The revelation came during a Town Hall meeting in Babonneau on Wednesday.
In addition to the OKEU Hospital, the MHMC includes the National Mental Wellness Centre and Turning Point Rehabilitation Centre.
“It costs about ninety million dollars a year to deliver the package of services to the population of Saint Lucia,” MCMH Chief Executive Officer Dexter James told the town hall meeting.
Regarding hospital challenges, he said the nursing shortage was declining.
However, James said there was high in-patient bed occupancy due to sicker patients and non-communicable diseases.
But he described patient no-shows as a particularly ‘vexing issue.’
“Patients are booked for appointments, and we have thirty percent; three out of ten patients are no-shows. They just don’t show up,” the MHMC official disclosed.
James observed that the situation creates resource wastage as doctors wait to see individuals who do not show up in the outpatient clinics.
He said the individuals later visit the emergency department in a ‘catastrophic state.’
The CEO disclosed that a quarter of all patients the OKEU Hospital Accident and Emergency Department sees require non-urgent medical care.
James explained that such patients could receive medical care elsewhere, such as at polyclinics.
James also addressed the issue of malpractice coverage.
“Today, your hospital spends $620,000 a year for malpractice insurance. We have to spend it because things can go wrong and in the event a suit is brought to us, we have to be able to mitigate it,” the MHMC official stated.
In addition, he cited high public expectations as another challenge.
James said people watch television shows like ‘Emergency Room’ and ‘Dr. House’.
He explained that, as a result, they want all the ‘fancy gadgets’ they see on those shows, including Artificial Intelligence.
“Those are high public expectations that we are grappling with on a day to day basis that we could ill-afford to finance,” James told the town hall audience.