Unique Utah Partnership Brings Ophthalmic Services to Trinidad-Tobago
Sep 7, 2012 1:00 PM
Guest post by Randall J Olson, M.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences; CEO, John A. Moran Eye Center
Trinidad-Tobago sits off the Venezuelan coastline. It has a population of 1.2 million with its citizens earning a per capita income of $18,000—making this island the richest Caribbean country by far.
Thirty ophthalmologists serve the island through private practices for patients lucky enough to have private health insurance, but 70% of cataract patients are forced to seek treatment through the public sector. These patients must wait an average of four years to get treatment. The productivity in the public sector is unbelievably low. The major public clinic, the San Fernando Hospital, has seven ophthalmologists who performed 300 cataracts last year— that’s less than one a week by each doctor.
To help solve the problem, the U.S. Army was asked to help. At a nearby base,
Major General Chang, U.S. Corp Chief Medical Officer, began looking for a strategic partner, leading him to Moran Eye Center. Our center is committed to the goal that no person with a blinding condition, eye disease or visual impairment should be without hope, understanding and treatment. With this in mind, we were happy to forge a partnership. Our immediate goal was to address the backlog of existing cataract patients. Our long term goals were to mentor the physicians at the San Fernando Hospital and create a regional center of excellence.
The ophthalmologists were motivated and excited to partner with us. To reach our goal of achieving a center of excellence, we needed to improve the following: increase their team of subspecialists, help modernize their residency, dramatically change their surgical efficiency and quality, and substantially increase the number of patients seen and treated.
To best showcase what we hope to accomplish, here are our main tasks:
- Help submit a plan for center expansion.
- Reorganize patient flow in both the clinic and operating rooms.
- Help with residency teaching material including all our recorded lectures, grand rounds, etc. I’d also like to get residents here for short rotations. The Ministry of Health can pay for all of this.
- Help with residency redesign to help modernize the rotation system.
- Help train more subspecialists. The next two major needs after nuero-opthalmology would be cornea and glaucoma.
- Run interference if the inertia of their bureaucracy tries to shut down this initiative.
We’re excited to be a part of this endeavor and committed to the goal of ending blinding eye diseases throughout the world.
-Randall J. Olson, M.D.comments powered by Disqus