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January 25, 2012


Eddie Dieufaite

Medical tourism lacks visionary leadership. No-one is going to come to the Bahamas when the proper facilities are lacking.

Take, for instance, the expansion of the the Rand Hospital in Freeport. A building here and a building there is too ad-hoc. It would be visionary to turn the Royal Oasis Hotel into a hospital. It could accommodate a pharmacy and patient-related services on the first floor, doctors offices on the second floor, and patient rooms on the third and fourth floors.

The government could enter into an agreement with Ross University to use part of the facility as a campus. The country club could be divided to house students and medical tourists.

A university hospital in the heart of Freeport would totally revitalize the area. Ross University is probably paying over $1.5 million annually for rental facilities and housing. The government could put up the initial funds to buy and renovate the hotel, with a loan from the IDB or from the Chinese Export Bank. Rent collected from Ross and other vendors could be used to service the loan.

That is visionary.

Milan Turnquest

Very nice piece.

The long-suffering, long preyed-upon Bahamian public has always looked askance at "professional oversight" bodies such as the Bar and Medical Councils, whose sole purpose seems to be protecting members from the consequences of malpractice and negligence.

Those organizations have always functioned as bulwarks and ring fences for the elite groups they purport to represent. There really ought not be any surprise at the stalling, waffling,and overt obstructionism evident in the case mentioned.

Patrick Thomson

A good article on the health system. However, as well as the trust issue you cover there are two other related issues that need to be addressed.

1. After-care - does the Bahamas have the nursing and after-care checks that people trust?
2. Costs - why does the Bahamian medical profession feel it can charge US prices?

The third is the one you cover - namely trust in the ability of doctors to perform treatments. You do hear horror stories.

Nick Higgs

Oh well if its only a matter of wants:

"This chairman reported to a Rotary Club meeting in 2008 that the Board didn't want to investigate any complaints, or 'be involved in that detailed level of work.'"

How about duty? The very fact that members were removed then reinstated following a change of government immediately stinks of nepotism. Is the Bahamas big enough to have truly independent public oversight?

Harold Munnings

Good points but I question the implication that a major reason Bahamians go abroad is because they want better regulation and oversight. If this were a key issue, we would not also flock to Cuba for care. I believe people go to the USA for medical care for the same reason that they shop there for clothes: greater variety, better quality and a nicer environment. The ability to choose from a palette of well-qualified doctors is very attractive. Back at home, familiarity breeds contempt.

Our small size and limited choice does make quality assessment easier in some ways. Want to know who in The Bahamas is competent or who has fair fees? Ask a friend. Try doing that in a big American city. And even in their vaunted regulatory environment kooks abound, as the recent arrest in Miami of the butt-enhancing fake doctor demonstrates. The Federation of State Medical Boards warns Americans of known physician impersonators. The list runs some 35 pages. http://www.fsmb.org/pdf/IMPOSTORS.pdf

larry smith

In the case of Cuba, price and access are the key drivers. I agree that variety, quality and environment are major attractions for the US, but we should not overlook the added value of regulatory oversight and the knowledge that there will usually be some recourse. We have physician impersonators here too, but I am unaware of any list of transgressors.

Leandra Esfakis

Functional regulatory oversight adds value to the health service product because there are quality control systems /protocols in place which, if followed, not only help protect the patient from medical injury, but also protect the doctor from a claim of negligence. The doctors' knowledge that the patient has effective recourse, would likely motivate doctors to follow the protocols, and reduce the incidence of "misadventures." That is the desired result - so recourse to those regulatory bodies, would likewise be minimized.

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