HEALTH FOR ALL

Ecuador 2012 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Dr. Teófilo Lama Pico, President of Grupo Hospitalario Kennedy, on the background of the group, expansion, and specializations.

Dr. Teófilo Lama Pico
BIOGRAPHY
With medical experience in Guayaquil, Los Angeles, and Tokyo, Dr. Teófilo Lama Pico has been a professor of anatomy since 1966, shortly after graduating from the Faculty of Medical Sciences in Guayaquil, Ecuador. He also worked as a volunteer for the Luis Vernaza Hospital. He was selected as Minister of Public Health in 2003 and is currently President of Grupo Hospitalario Kennedy, an organization he also founded.

What's the background story to Grupo Hospitalario Kennedy?

Clínica Kennedy (HCK) opened its doors in October 1978, and we formed a very qualified and skilled team whose main aim was to develop high-quality clinical scientific services at the forefront of today's medicine. Back then we believed that the private health sector was not doing enough to attend the demands of the Ecuadorean population, and at the beginning it was hard to put together enough capital for developing my idea of health care. Fortunately, everything turned out fine, and we can proudly say that ours is a very successful story. In October 1999, Kennedy inaugurated the Clinical Hospital Alborada (HCKA), the first private hospital in Guayaquil, proving that our services were highly valued and appreciated within Ecuador. We have always been a pioneering institution with the most modern infrastructure and equipment and prominent professionals in medicine, engineering, and administration. All that sums up what Grupo Hospitalario Kennedy (GHK) is; moral standing, professionalism, and high tech. During the presidency of Lucio Gutiérrez between 2003 and 2005, I was named Minister of Health, and my sons and nephew took over the management duties. During this period, we opened the Clínica Kennedy Samborondón (HCKS), which serves major towns settled in the area and the area surrounding Guayaquil providing scheduled and emergency health care. These health centers form the GHK today, and we employ around 600 doctors.

What factors have led to the expansion of the HCKS?

The hospital was opened in 2006, and during the first year of activity the center treated over 4,000 patients and more than 250 babies were born; HCKS maintains high levels of technological advancement and has a diagnostic imaging center with multislice computed tomography of 16 cuts, digital X-ray, echocardiography, a maternity ward, seven cubicles within the intensive care unit, neonatal intensive care, clinical laboratories, and 24/7 emergency services. The HCKS is totally integrated within the group, which facilitates the managing of medical records of patients regardless of the center they attend to, allowing immediate access to all services of the hospitals of the group. At the moment we are undergoing expansion works; we are constructing the third stage of the project, the Delta tower, which will allow the incorporation of 48 doctors' offices and 35 additional hospital beds, which will also ensure the development of the hospital for the next 15 years. The health needs of the population of the area, as well as the need to keep the same standards the same as in other hospitals, led to the expansion of the HCKS.

How has GHK sought to establish international agreements with foreign hospitals?

Over the years, we have reached international healthcare agreements with centers from Mexico, Colombia, and the US, and through these agreements we have also tried to boost scientific research as well as know-how transfer.

How has GHK specialized its services over the years?

We have a very strong transplant unit run by my son, who got his higher education qualifications in Spain, specializing in heart transplant. Today, we do a lot of transplants: heart transplants, marrow transplants, bone transplants, and so on.

How close do you work with the Ecuadorean Institute of Social Security (IESS)?

The IESS checks on us for the quality of our services; we need to report to them about our work and standards. We are classified as a Level 3 hospital, which means that we are a very specialized and high-quality health center, and they certify us with the credentials to offer such services. At the same time, and as a part of a bilateral agreement, we provide health services to its patients.

What percentage of your patients comes from the IESS?

Up until 2009, we were a 100% private hospital in terms of patients. However, the overall number of patients coming from the IESS is growing, for every year there are more and more workers joining the social system. As of today, I would say that 60% of our patients come from the IESS. GHK always has been characterized by its openness to society, and we aim to attend to all the stratas of society, even the poorest communities, for whom we have two foundations operating.

What challenges is the health system in Ecuador facing in terms of development?

I believe there's still a lot of work to do in terms of bringing epidemic diseases like tuberculosis, dengue fever, and AIDS under control. In this regard, we have to carry on our commitment at all levels of the national health system, to bring health care to the Ecuadorean population, regardless of their social and economic status or their geographic location. The public health system needs to be upgraded in order to reach out to all the population with solvency and efficiency. However, this situation needs to be addressed at the international level, not only in Ecuador.