Healthcare options have just increased

  • Arlene Basden and Marico Thomas, of the Bermuda Medical Specialties Group (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Arlene Basden and Marico Thomas, of the Bermuda Medical Specialties Group (Photograph by Akil Simmons)


Dear Sir,

Much has been written in the local media about healthcare recently. I wish to add perspective. In 2017, the Bermuda Medical Specialties Group was conceived with the intention of being only a specialist referral centre.

The director and lead physician at BMSG is Arlene Basden. Dr Basden’s skills and experience have been honed via work in multiple countries and as the Bermuda Hospitals Board’s hospitalist director and Bermuda’s primary complex care practitioner.

Dr Basden’s objective is to provide complex care in the community and to amplify its impact through the application of highly skilled specialist physicians and technical diagnostics personnel.

The results of our intentions have been surprising. Before construction, we shared our medical philosophy, our goals and floor plan with just about every leader in Bermuda healthcare, but most importantly with many physicians.

The feedback to our new style of healthcare was very encouraging with one exception. To our surprise, we were told several times by multiple general practitioners that because of the facility we intended to build and the type of doctors we would have, that they were concerned that we were going to steal their patients.

This caught us by surprise, especially as we took great care to study healthcare in Bermuda and to understand why it struggled:

• Why are residents unhappy with the care they receive?

• Why do we go to the hospital then demand to be sent overseas?

• Why are we unhappy with the emergency department?

• Why can’t we get a bed in the hospital?

• Why do some people lack confidence in on-island care?

• Why do some people have to go back to the hospital or their GP so many times?

We looked for answers on island and attended medical conferences overseas. We participated in medical think-tank conversations at Harvard University, with leaders of major hospital systems in the United States, and with consultants in Bermuda.

We developed relationships with people and organisations that own or lead both hospitals and community medical systems.

After eight years of planning and revising and consulting, the BMSG was born. It is awesome in its difference. There is nothing else like it in Bermuda. It has been praised by visiting medical teams from Johns Hopkins, Lahey, Lenox/Northwell, Cancer Treatment Centres of America, Mass General and Philadelphia Internal Health.

So we opened our doors and informed all physicians that we are here. Here to take on the most challenging patients. The ones who require more time. The ones that require more investigation. The ones who require more services. The ones who are still in pain or discomfort, but do not have answers.

The result? We constantly have been told by patients that they would like to be seen by our doctors. But many GPs have been true to their word and are not referring.

Patients want to see us, but many doctors won’t refer and the issues/questions about our health system remain.

This makes no sense and here is our solution.

Commencing February 1, the BMSG will now offer family medicine, general practice and internal medical. The BMSG will now be accepting patients.

There’s more: for the months of February and March, the BMSG will remove all co-payments for any regular GP visit. That’s right — no copay for all of February and March.

Bermuda complains that it spends too much in healthcare and receives insufficient in return. The BMSG was conceived to be an impactful part of the solution.

The goal of the BMSG is to be a solution to the gaps of care that exist, to solve complex medical problems and to provide modern medicine.

We get what we ask for. We should not only ask to be sent overseas. We should demand better care here — on island, in your own community.

We tolerate what we don’t deserve. This is like people who find it difficult to leave an abusive relationship. You know when something isn’t right but yet you stay. You need to pack your stuff and go.

You deserve better — from us as medical providers, from the insurance companies that don’t demand better from on-island care, from the Government who are the health system managers and gatekeepers, from the hospital as the largest user of every healthcare dollar, from consultants who provide cautious opinions and, most importantly, from patients and families who leave the water running when they brush their teeth then wonder why they ran out of water.

We as patients cannot use the hospital emergency room as a free doctor’s office, the hospital wards as long-stay hotel rooms, or expect to be flown off island all the time and then complain when our paycheque is lower because the health premium deduction went up.

As of February 1, the BMSG will have two streams of patients: referrals and persons that wish to join our practice. The BMSG has no desire to change the relationship between you and your GP. Your GP is your primary care provider and our specialists and technicians collaborate with them on your behalf.

We do not want this to end and in this regard, all patients sent to us for referral will be directed back to their primary care provider for follow-up.

Separately, we know there are many persons in Bermuda who do not have a primary care provider, or who may wish to explore a different healthcare experience. For them, we invite you to join us at the BMSG.

Please see your physician for a referral, or call us directly and we will make arrangements for you.

MARICO THOMAS

Chief executive

Bermuda Medical Specialties Group

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Published Feb 4, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 4, 2019 at 7:55 am)

Healthcare options have just increased

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