THROUGH HARD GRAFT

Ecuador 2012 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Javier Contreras, General Manager of Hospital Metropolitano, on utilizing cutting-edge technology, the success of the transplant unit, and the role of the private sector.

Javier Contreras
BIOGRAPHY
Javier Contreras is a senior business executive with over 22 years of international experience in more than six Latin American countries. He is currently the General Manager of Hospital Metropolitano, with previous positions including General Manager at EMSA Airport Services CEM, Managing Partner at Sequence Consulting, and Corporate Controller for the Andean Region at Kraft Foods. He has an MBA with a specialization in Finance from the Universidad de Belgrano, Buenos Aires.

What was the idea behind the opening of Hospital Metropolitano in 1985?

Several Ecuadorean doctors, most of them having studied their sub-specialty in the best clinics and hospitals around the world, realized upon return to Ecuador that there was no hospital infrastructure up to international standards. Therefore, a few of them came together initially with that dream in mind. They asked American Medical International (AMI) to evaluate the project, based on its experience owning hospitals around the world, and its management concluded there was the potential for a hospital with high-quality standards in Quito. AMI joined the doctors interested in the project as a major shareholder of Conclina C.A., the group that owns Hospital Metropolitano. It is the reference point in the health sector of Ecuador in terms of hospital management, quality patient care, cutting-edge technology, and professionalism of the medical, technical, and administrative staff.

In 2001 Hospital Metropolitano began a technological restructuring plan. How would you evaluate the hospital in terms of technological advances?

Since the beginning, to differentiate itself with cutting-edge technology and infrastructure was the main goal of the hospital.

From a technological perspective, we have attached special importance to the renewal and acquisition of new equipment in order to address highly complex services. Thus, for example, in 2009 the first liver transplant was carried out in the country at Hospital Metropolitano, the only authorized health institution to carry out this procedure. In 2010, we acquired a linear accelerator for radiotherapy. It is cutting-edge technology for cancer treatment.

How successful has your transplant unit been?

Hospital Metropolitano has been characterized by the development of its professionals and the incorporation of new complex procedures. One of the most complex procedures is organ transplantation. We performed 60 transplants during 2011, such as kidney, liver, cornea, and bone marrow transplants. Hospital Metropolitano is the only institution that has obtained accreditation to perform liver transplants in Ecuador from the government through the National Agency for Organ and Tissue Transplants (ONTOT), considered one of the most complex procedures in the world. We have performed 36 hepatic transplants since 2010. Based on our morbidity rate, our success is comparable with other hospitals that are capable of performing this complex procedure around the world.

How have your relationships with international institutions helped the development of the hospital?

In order to keep up the improvement of our quality indicators, Hospital Metropolitano has a large number of agreements with different healthcare institutions around the world with which we share experiences.

In our daily goal for excellence, Hospital Metropolitano has managed to obtain several certifications from recognized institutions worldwide, which guarantee the high quality of its processes and maintain its international service standards, which are applied in different areas, motivating the improvement of internal processes and training for our employees.

These efforts allowed Hospital Metropolitano to obtain accreditation from Joint Commission International (JCI), in March 2011. I'm proud to say that our hospital is the only one in Ecuador to have this recognition on excellence in safety and quality in patient care.

Hospital Metropolitano is expanding. What medical areas are going to benefit from this?

In Ecuador, Hospital Metropolitano has the largest healthcare facilities in the private sector, with 106,000 sqm of space. An investment of more than $25 million in three new buildings expanded the medical offices, where specialized physicians attend to their private practice. We will increase the hospital's capacity by up to 50%, which means we will have 60 more beds, and we will also expand the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in order to separate the pediatric ICU from the adult one. The expansion is also needed in emergency and cardiology, coupled with oncology, an area where improvements will continue.

How do you assess the quality and role of private health care in the country?

The private sector is an important part of the national healthcare system. As a part of it, we need to distinguish ourselves in what we offer. Quality, safety, and warmness are essential. The private sector competes in these areas constantly. Hospital Metropolitano has always positioned itself as having the best doctors, a differentiated infrastructure, cutting-edge technology, and quality standards in the attention given to its patients. The whole healthcare system faces the challenge of increasing quality standards despite the rising costs in technology.