Improved patient care as MoU signed with NYC’s largest healthcare provider

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By Kurt Campbell

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Health authorities in Guyana are confident that the signing of a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with New York City’s largest healthcare provider – Northwell Health – will lend to the improvement of the current standards of patient care here.

The highlight of a one week visit to Guyana by 17 medical professionals from Northwell Health saw the signing of the flagship agreement on Friday at Cara Lodge in Georgetown.

It allows for Guyana and Northwell Health to support each other in education, training and human resource capacity building.

Importantly, it leaves room for the designing of specific programmes that will benefit Guyana in relation to improving overall patient care and physical healthcare infrastructure.

Discussions started in 2019 and with the MoU finally signed, Global Health Director at Northwell Eric Cioe Peña has committed to having a presence in Guyana every day starting next year.

“I see this agreement as the floor and not a ceiling in terms of our consulting in Guyana.

“We have many Guyanese employees and we take care of the largest diaspora of Guyanese patients in the United States… this is personal for us. You are our neighbours in more ways than one and closer than you think and that’s why this is important for Northwell Health,” Peña told the News Room.

Northwell Health has similar agreements at its core sites in Ecuador and Bangalore in India but the agreement with Guyana is the largest and most substantive one signed to date, where the most resources and attention have been committed.

Northwell Health believes it can help to address deficiencies in regional health centers.

“It’s the first of many trips… We would review our progress with this MoU quarterly and we will have a large annual review each year. We made the agreement purposefully five years long because it is a long walk together,” Ciao-Pena added.

Guyanese authorities including the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC) Dr. Robbie Rambarran have welcomed the cooperation agreement which will address, in large part, the gaps in nursing care, brought on my migration of qualified Guyanese Nurses.

According to Northwell Health’s Chief Nursing Officer Dr. Launette Woolforde, this is a crucial partnership through which nursing will be able to better impact patient outcomes.

“We will be testing models of care, evaluating those outcomes and reviewing and revising base don’t the findings,” she noted.

Already, during visits to healthcare facilities in Georgetown and other parts of the country, Northwell Health has committed to donating medical equipment such as microscopes for the pathology lab and ventilators for COVID-19 patients.

Meanwhile, Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony was present for the signing and said it was a good collaboration as he talked up the prospects.

He pointed to the opportunities for observer exchanges and fellowships where Guyanese medical professionals will be sent to NYC for training to strengthen local capacity.

He anticipates a change in culture.

“We have a lot of needs in nursing and I think we need to work on it very quickly so we can improve our standards at home.

“We have a problem because even with the nurses we are producing… one of the big challenges is migration and we probably would have to devise some strategies on how we can better retain our nurses,” the Health Minister said.

Dr. Anthony believes the five-year cooperation will give enough scope to develop new programmes but said the collaboration must be accelerated.

Northwell Health will also send technical employees to Guyana to help with the exchange of knowledge and the improvement of standards.

The company is a health system of 23 hospitals, 850 outpatient centers and 76, 000 employees including 18, 00 nurses.

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