Inspector begins medical facilities checks

Inspections of medical facilities
throughout the Cayman Islands begin Monday to ensure that they meet legal
standards.

Cayman’s first and only health
practice and facilities inspector, Barrie Quappé, will inspect two private clinics Monday as she kicks off inspections.

Mrs.
Quappé, who was appointed in September 2009, said: “It was a long process, but
we can now start inspections confident in the fact that we not only received
ample input from stakeholders, but we also made sure to give them reasonable
notification of the changes to come.”

Work on drawing up national
standards began nearly a decade ago with a steering committee set up in late
2001 to develop health practice legislation. The Health Practice Commission’s
National Standards for Health Care Facilities was finally published in the
Government Gazette last month.

Most healthcare facilities in
Cayman should already have provisional certificates that state they meet the
standards. If, during the inspections, it is found that they that fail to meet
the standards, they will be given a time frame in which to comply.

Those who fail to comply can be closed down.

“If something
is really unsafe, we can shut it down,” Mrs. Quappe said, adding that if a
section of a facility does not comply with the standards, that section could be
shut down, rather than the entire facility.

“We are not
trying to put anybody out of business. That’s not the point, the point here is
safety,” she said.

Any facility that operates without
a certificate is liable to a $50,000 fine, with an additional $10,000 fine for
each day they operate without it.

Operators of a medical facility will be given seven days’ notice of an
inspection.

The Health Practice Commission has
sent a checklist of all the standards that should be met to each of the more
than 60 facilities that have been identified.

Among those
who face inspections are doctors, dentists, midwives, nurses, pharmacists and
people associated with medicine, which includes massage therapists,
acupuncturists, chiropodists, dieticians, homeopaths, opticians, radiographers,
and speech therapists.

Mrs. Quappé, a former nurse who has also worked as an analyst at the Office of the Complaints Commissioner, insisted the Health Practice Commission’s goal was not to “pounce”
on medical practitioners, but to ensure that they knew what standards they were
expected to meet to and to help them meet those standards.

The Commission
would notify the public if a facility does not meet the required standards, Ms Quappé said.

Minister of Health Mark Scotland
said the new standards were a “milestone” in the growth and development of
Cayman’s healthcare delivery system.

Dr. Steve Tomlinson, chairman of
the Health Practice Commission, said: “It is very important for any country to
have healthcare standards, especially when the people originate from various
parts of the world where the standards are bit different… The aim of the Health
Practice Commission and the government is to ensure that we comply with the law
and our goal is to have standards that are as good as any in the world.”

The legislation states that
Cayman’s healthcare facilities should meet the standards acceptable in the
United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.

“I really think this is going to be
an extremely good thing for the island, especially as we expect there is going
to be a lot more nationalities coming to the island in order to work in
healthcare,” Dr. Tomlinson said at a press briefing on Friday to announce the
start of inspections.

A proposed new hospital, which aims
to eventually have 2,000 beds, has been agreed between the government and
Indian heart surgeon Dr. Devi Shetty. Mr. Scotland at an earlier press
conference said Cayman’s laws would be amended to ensure that the
qualifications of medical professionals from India and other countries who came
to work at the hospital would be recognised.

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