County Oks Services Export By Jackson Memorial Hospital
Written by Candice Ventra on September 28, 2000
By Candice Ventra
County commissioners hope to establish a program that will export Jackson Memorial Hospital’s health services to medical centers abroad.
"There were two governments, Brazil and Spain, that came to us looking for help in health services," said Commissioner Javier Souto, who sponsored the resolution. "They even offered to pay. I thought we could establish a program with these countries."
He said once it is planned and constructed it could be an additional source of revenue for Jackson. Although the program has not been organized, Mr. Souto said he expects some educational outreach to be done over the Internet.
"We need to work on this," Mr. Souto said. "Right now it’s just an idea."
Conchita Ruiz-Topinka, spokesperson for Public Health Trust, said Mr. Souto’s idea would probably be an expansion of educational and medical outreach programs already in place at Jackson.
"Being connected with the University of Miami we have extensive programs with hospitals throughout the country," Ms. Ruiz-Topinka said. "The resolution probably formalizes some already existing relationships."
Jackson is already a member of the Miami Medical Alliance, a group of nine area hospitals that joined in 1998 to market the area’s medical assets to Central and South America.
When the alliance was formed the goal was to strengthen Miami’s medical influence in the world first by touting itself as the medical capital of the Americas. Among its goals is to offer Latin American executives a full physical exam at one of the nine participating hospitals.
Commissioner Souto said the new program, which was unanimously adopted at last week’s commission meeting, would add no costs to the budgets of the University of Miami Jackson Memorial Health Center or the Public Health Trust, which oversees and operates Jackson and other county health clinics. Any services or training exported or the cost of medical staff will be billed to the recipient of those services.
"Jackson is one of the top 25 hospitals in the nation," Mr. Souto said. "They know a lot. They should be able to do this for humanitarian reasons."
The program, he said, should be modeled after the county’s sister cities policy. Commissioners have sent the resolution to County Manager Merrett Stierheim to begin constructing.
Miami-Dade County has 20 sister city committees, including the county’s, which operates out of Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas’ office.
The nationwide sister cities program was created by US President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 as a way for citizens to get involved in diplomacy. The program links US cities with communities abroad to increase business and cultural ties.
Miami-Dade’s program was once overseen by the county commission but in 1997 was moved by the mayor to his Office of Trade & Commerce to focus more on Miami’s international business links, said Director Tony Ojeda.
Sister city representatives, he said, often take trips to various countries to make business ties and share ideas.