Officials at the Cayman Islands Hospital are looking into creating an urgent care clinic to help cut down on waiting times in the hospital’s accident and emergency unit.
The need for an urgent care clinic was identified following a survey of patients who pointed out that one of their biggest bugbears about the hospital’s out-patient service was the long waiting times at A&E.
The telephone survey of 500 people, carried out in September 2011, showed satisfaction with the hospital’s out-patient services last year dropped compared with 2010. In 2011, 66 per cent of respondents rated the hospital’s out-patient facilities as “excellent” or “good”, compared with 77 per cent in 2010.
In the 2011 survey, 10 per cent rated the out-patient services as “poor”, while 24 per cent rated them as “fair”.
The most frequent response from people who were asked in the survey what could be done to improve the Cayman Islands Hospital, was “more/faster assistance at A&E”.
Lizzette Yearwood, chief executive officer of the Health Services Authority, said that the Accident and Emergency Unit was the primary entry point for respondents, with 41 per cent of them accessing public health though A&E. She said this was “why improvements here have the potential to affect the experience of the greatest number of patients”.
“We recognise that there are areas of service which need our particular focus for improvement and the survey has helped to pinpoint these areas. We are now looking at a variety of ways to reduce waiting times at A&E, one example that is being investigated is the establishment of an urgent care clinic,” she said.
An urgent care clinic is a walk-in unit, usually attached to an accident and emergency unit, where patients can receive immediate medical treatment.
While 32 per cent of respondents called for faster assistance at A&E, 12 per cent wanted to see better customer service and better attitudes from staff and 9 per cent called for more doctors, nurses and pharmacists.
Free health care
More than a third of respondents to the Cayman Health Facilities Usage and Attitudes Survey, which was commissioned by the Health Services Authority and carried out by Tower Marketing between 16 and 23 September, 2011, feel they should not have to pay for public health services.
The telephone survey showed that 37 per cent of respondents strongly agreed they should not have to pay for services at the Health Services Authority, while 31 per cent strongly disagreed with this statement and 12 per cent “somewhat disagreed”.
The survey was carried out to gauge public opinion of the public health facilities and performance. A similar survey was done in 2010.
According to September’s survey, 78 per cent of those who had been treated at the hospital rated its in-patient facilities as “excellent” or “good”.
In 2010, patients commenting on in-patient facilities gave them a 30 per cent “excellent” rating, while 44 per cent of respondents in the 2011 survey said the in-patient services were “excellent”. In the 2011 survey, 4 per cent rated the in-patient services as “poor” and 18 per cent said they were “fair”.
Those who complained about the in-patient service said their biggest issue was the standard of the food they were served.
Most respondents, 60 per cent, who were admitted to the Cayman Islands Hospital or Faith Hospital in Cayman Brac in the year preceding the survey said they had no other choice. One tenth said they had chosen one of those hospitals due to prior personal experience and 13 per cent said it was because they had been recommended to do so by a family member or friend.
In terms of perceived overall experience, respondents rated the Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital higher than the Cayman Islands Hospital, with 53 per cent giving Chrissie Tomlinson an “excellent” rating and 26 per cent giving the Cayman Islands Hospital an “excellent” rating.
The survey also showed that 89 per cent of the respondents strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement that the Health Services Authority provides high quality health care.
Mrs. Yearwood said the annual survey provided “an important reference point for the authority and its future planning focus”.
“While the survey shows that the level of confidence in the HSA remains relatively constant at 80 per cent, those patients who have used the HSA over the past 12 months are 3 per cent more confident that they will receive good service than those who have not, which I think is an important statistic on two levels: it shows that patients who use the HSA realise that we do provide an extremely good level of service and it also shows that we still have some work to do to ensure that the general public has a more positive perception of our facilities and services.”
In the survey, 17 per cent of respondents rated their experiences with the Health Services Authority’s general practice as “excellent”, while 7 per cent gave the general practice service a “poor” rating.
According to the authority, one of its strategic objectives is to achieve a rating of satisfactory or better by 90 per cent of the population by 2015.
“Our hard-working staff all go to tremendous lengths to provide the highest quality of health care in the Cayman Islands,” Mrs. Yearwood said. “We believe that this research will help us all to identify how to achieve our goals most efficiently and it will assist us in tracking our progress towards it.”