The first report of the Cayman’s new health practice and facilities inspector shows that most of the Islands’ healthcare facilities meet new national standards.
Barrie Quappé said she found it “encouraging” that healthcare professionals were taking the new national standards seriously and that most of the practitioners she visited had reviewed the standards and ensured their facilities met them.
“Their proactive compliance made for a smooth and speedy inspection process,” said Mrs. Quappé, who took up her post as Cayman’s first, and so far only, health practice and facilities inspector in September 2009.
She began inspecting local healthcare premises in May and, by 30 November had inspected 82 of them.
Those that passed inspection were issued with full certificates from the Department Health Regulatory Services, while facilities still awaiting inspection are operating under provisional certificates.
Mrs. Quappé said she could not disclose how many of the facilities inspected had been given full certificates and how many had not fully met the standards, but she said that some were still at a stage called “compliance tracking”, meaning they were in the process of meeting the required standards. Those were still operating under provisional certificates.
She added that facilities found not yet to be in compliance with the national standards were usually as a result of minor issues.
Deadlines for compliance
Any facility that fails to meet the standards are given a time frame in which to comply. If they fail to comply, they can be closed down. During the current round of inspections, no facility has been closed. Facilities that operate without a certificate are liable to a $50,000 fine, with an additional $10,000 fine for each day they operate without it.
Operators of medical facilities are given seven days’ notice of an inspection.
“When the public sees the certificate on the wall, they can rest assured that those facilities are working to meet important precautionary criteria for their safety,” Mrs. Quappé said.
She urged practitioners to call her prior to an inspection if they are unsure of any provisions under the national standards. “Our department is here to help and guide practitioners as they work to achieve compliance with these new requirements,” she said.
Among the facilities being inspected 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 said when she first began inspections there were 98 facilities on her list, but the number grew as she came across facilities that were not considered healthcare premises, but were places where health services were being provided by registered practitioners. “We’re finding others in the community with registered practitioners, but that fall under another umbrella, like education or something else,” she said.
Under the Health Practice Law (2005 Revision), a healthcare facility is defined as premises at which health services are provided by a registered practitioner.
The inspector said she plans to complete the inspection of known premises on the current list before determining what other facilities require inspections under the law.
Director of Health Regulatory Services Mervyn Conolly welcomed the report, saying: “Our goal is to ensure quality healthcare for all residents, and enforcing National Standards for healthcare facilities is an important aspect of our mission. But it is always a partnership, and I want to thank all practitioners for their cooperation.”
Health Minister Mark Scotland said he was pleased to see the successful implementation of the facilities inspection process. “These inspections are in keeping with our ministry’s goal of ensuring a high standard of healthcare in the Cayman Islands,” he said, adding that the results of the first inspections validated his view that Cayman has a high quality of healthcare facilities.
Chairman of the Health Practice Commission Dr. Steve Tomlinson said the inspections are proceeding smoothly. “The majority of facilities have been inspected and their standard is generally good. In keeping with the other developed countries, this process will ensure safety for all who use medical facilities on the island,” he said.
It took nearly a decade for national standards for healthcare facilities to be finalised. Work on drawing up the standards began in late 2001 with a steering committee to develop health practice legislation. The Health Practice Commission’s National Standards for Healthcare Facilities were published in April 2010, and included provisions for building safety and sanitation.