Dr. Tamer Tadros, the new medical director of the Health Services Authority, just beat Hurricane Emily to the Cayman Islands.
He was scheduled to arrive Saturday, 18 July, but his flight from Miami became restricted to Cayman residents only due to the oncoming storm. The doctor did not have his work permit stamped in his passport.
Faced with not being allowed to board the airplane, Mr. Tadros received unexpected help.
‘Franz Manderson, the chief of Immigration, was standing behind me and overheard my conversation,’ he said.
Mr. Manderson knew all about the doctor’s application and spoke on his behalf, enabling Mr. Tadros to make the flight.
‘He (Mr. Manderson) appreciated that a doctor like me would be willing to travel to the Cayman Islands during a hurricane.
‘And I thought that if it were a real hurricane there could be lots of injured people. At least I could help as a trauma surgeon,’ Mr. Tadros said.
His skills as a surgeon were not required in the end, and two days later he was ensconced in the medical director’s office at Cayman Islands Hospital.
He has spent the last few weeks formulating strategies, deciding on goals and meeting with staff.
‘There are three key issues for my position — patient care, the managerial process, and research and education,’ Mr. Tadros said.
The HSA has recently faced negative publicity concerning such issues as staff resignations and problems with recovering debts from insurance companies. Mr. Tadros is looking to improve the authority’s very public profile.
‘People have to appreciate that there have been a lot of changes recently – a new government, the new CEO and medical director here. There is new blood in the old line,’ he said.
The transition will take time, but the staff at HSA is enthusiastic, he said.
‘I am experiencing that everyone is very eager to change things for the better and that we’re in a process where a lot of decisions have to be made, and also taken, wisely,’ he said.
‘No organisation exists without having criticism. We need feedback structured with recommendations. We learn from that and change, and go on to the next step,’ Mr. Tadros added.
He already has a strategy to make the necessary changes.
‘One of our goals is to address all these challenges in a structured way, to link all the aspects together and get the whole picture, with goals for the near future and the long term,’ he said.
The doctor realises, however, that this part of the process will not be obvious to the public.
‘I do appreciate the fact that in this phase, as for all governments, the impression will be given that nothing is happening. But a lot of things are happening.
‘This is preparation for a good implementation, with intelligent plans for all aspects – insurance, healthcare, quality of service – all linked together,’ he said.
He will be working on a medical strategy including whether to offer more specialised services.
‘We want to provide patients with whatever they need and give doctors and nurses whatever they need so they can provide excellent health care. We need to find equilibrium,’ he said.
Mr. Tadros anticipates setting up two lines of management.
‘One will handle problems that need to be dealt with urgently. The other will be longer track. The strength is in linking lines between all these issues,’ he said.
His vision is to build the hospital into a world-class organisation.
‘One of the most important aspects is to control and assure the medical quality provided by the hospital,’ he said.
Mr. Tadros plans to tailor medical efforts according to standard international protocols.
‘By doing this, we can meet international requirements and get international accreditation, which can put this hospital on the map of outstanding international healthcare providers,’ he said.
His own international experience should help him realise this goal. He is a member of various medical organisations in his native Holland, the US and the UK. Most recently, in Holland, he was associate professor of surgery and chairman of the emergency department at the Erasmus University Medical Centre, which operates three major hospitals.
Mr. Tadros has also acted as an advisor on several Dutch government committees including one on medical help in accidents and disasters and another on trauma quality control, education and research.
He has published research on sepsis and burns in international medical journals.
Mr. Tadros would also like to foster research at the HAS.
‘I had a meeting with the medical staff and was overwhelmed by the response. They want to do research,’ he said.
A major problem to overcome is funding.
‘Government hospitals, not just in the Cayman Islands but everywhere, have limited resources,’ he said.
The first priority is patient care, he explained, but there are avenues open for research money.
‘The challenge will be to do research with minimal resources from the hospital and to explore other revenues which can be utilised for funding research,’ Mr. Tadros said.
He explained that the research doesn’t have to cost a lot and that his good international connections can help.
‘Sometimes research can be profitable,’ he added.
His international outlook has been cultivated since Mr. Tadros was a boy.
‘When I was little, I moved with my family to different places – Greece, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, England and the US.
‘I have lived in a lot of cultures and my parents did their best for me to be absorbed in each. I was encouraged to look for positive things in each culture and learn from them,’ he said.
His sense of community spills over into the hospital, which he views as an integral part of Cayman.
‘This hospital is a very important organisation on this island. It’s the obligation of the hospital to make every effort to serve the community, but it is also the responsibility of every Caymanian to support the organisation and work toward a better future,’ he said.