The new chief of the Health Services Authority, Craig Brown, was formally introduced to the island at the Business Leaders Forum held last Wednesday at the Marriott Beach Resort.
The forum, hosted by the Board of Directors of the Health Services, aimed to engage dialogue with invited community business leaders on the future of healthcare in the Cayman Islands.
Minister of Health Anthony Eden spoke at the event, telling the audience that the most valuable asset any individual has.
‘We need a world-class healthcare system,’ said Mr. Eden. ‘It’s the right thing to do.’
The Board of Directors admitted to faults currently in the healthcare system, and was eager for input from the community. Mr. Brown touched on these issues in his comments.
‘We need to get the whole organisation on the same page,’ he said. ‘We are not on the same page. We are not confident that we could solve our problems internally. I fully admit that. We need to get there.’
Pastor Al Ebanks, Chairman of the HSA, echoed this sentiment.
‘We as a board are more than ready to admit that we don’t have all the answers,’ he said. ‘I must emphasise that there is no quick fix or immediate magic wand to solve some of the issues (we have).
‘(However,) I am confident that together we can raise the organization to its deserved place of excellence and respect both locally and overseas.’
Mr. Brown arrived from Canada with more than 25 years of experience in the healthcare system, as well as a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in business administration.
‘He was recently Chief Executive Officer of the Coaldale Health Care Centre in Alberta, Canada. Prior to that he worked as CEO of the Blind River Healthcare Trust,’ stated Mr. Ebanks. ‘As CEO, Mr. Brown will be responsible for the overall management of the HSA and we look forward to working with him as we move the organization forward.’
Mr. Brown said advancements need to be made in Cayman’s healthcare. ‘This country can only grow and survive if we have good healthcare,’ Mr. Brown said.
‘The first question an overseas worker will ask is ‘what is the quality of healthcare’? Where am I bringing my family?’ This country will stop growing without quality healthcare. People will stop coming.’
Mr. Brown also presented some of the immediate advancements that the HSA is aware of and will be appealing for help in achieving.
‘We need a new CT scanner; we’ll be going to the community for some support for that. These are just some of the things that we can do together.’
The event was then opened up to the invited community members to contribute with questions they wished to ask the Board.
Conor O’Dea, Managing Director of Butterfield Bank, raised the question of the high cost of insurance premiums for staff. ‘The amount that our lower-level employees are paying is up to 20 per cent of their salary on insurance premiums,’ he said. ‘It’s a huge cost – it may mean that healthcare is high-quality, but it is also expensive.’
Mr. Eden responded to this inquiry. ‘I understand the concern regarding insurance policies,’ he said. ‘We will be having a meeting this week with the medical and dental society to see if there is a way we can lower the premiums.’
Other concerns raised at the forum included a question from Dr. Peter Schultz, cardiologist at the Cayman Islands Hospital, who pointed out the fact that it currently takes six to eight hours to get a very sick patient off the island, which is often far too long.
Mr. Brown agreed that this issue needed to be addressed. ‘We need to organise an air ambulance. We need to look at working with local organisations to work out an on-island air ambulance service. At the moment, planes come from Miami, which delays the process considerably.’
The Board was congratulated by many on taking the initiative to organise such an event, and for listening to the concerns of the public.
This community involvement was welcomed by the Board, confirmed Mr. Brown.
‘You know better than I the issues we have in healthcare.’