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Panama 2015 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Vilma Moreno de Arias, Executive Director of Centro Medico Paitilla (CMP) and Dr. Ramon Crespo Berges, Medical Director, on how the health sector is evolving, the importance of human capital, and future of the industry.

Vilma Moreno de Arias
BIOGRAPHY
Vilma Moreno de Arias has a Degree in Social Communications with specialization in Public Relations from the University of Panama. She has a Master of Science degree in Public Relations from The American University of Washington DC. She has many courses and seminars in areas of leadership and topics of administrative processes of hospital management. She is currently the Executive Director of Centro Médico Paitilla, where she has worked since 1993.
Dr. Ramon Crespo Berges
BIOGRAPHY
Dr. Ramon Crespo Berges, the Medical Director of the Centro Médico Paitilla, received his medical degree from the Medical School of Medicine of the “Universidad Nacional de Panamá”, and the specialty degree in Otorhinolaryngology from the Universidad Autónoma de México and the Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social, Mexico City. During his professional career, he has been a president of several important health institutions He has been a member of the Medical Advisory Board of Centro Médico Paitilla, since 2005.

How would you assess Panama's latest progress in the health sector?

VILMA MORENO DE ARIAS Over recent years the country has been characterized by real progress, and it is evident that Panama is growing in the healthcare sector too. Indeed, Panama is trying to turn into a hub for healthcare services for regional headquarters, expatriates, investors and companies operating in the country. In 2015, we celebrate 40 years of activity. With four decades of success, CMP is positioned in a leading role in the private healthcare sector, recognized throughout the country and the wider region.

RAMON CRESPO B. For years Panama has been emerging as a leader in the global healthcare sector, and the country has been investing in the introduction of the best international standards and technologies. We are close to reaching the highest international standards applied by leading international hospitals worldwide, and led by the most experienced doctors. We are proud of our team, and its skill and experience allows us to offer the best of service to our clients and patients. That is our mission, to improve the sector and the country at large.

What is the importance of Human Capital at CMP?

VMDA The health sector in general in Panama urgently needs nurses, technicians, and specialists. That is a real priority for the country. The universities are not providing the market with enough professionals for the sector, and current law stipulates that a nurse or a technician seeking to work in the healthcare sector must be Panamanian. That is a barrier for us, as we cannot hire foreign qualified workers.

How is the clinic positioned to introduce a new approach, based on prevention and personalized medicine?

RCB The private hospitals in Panama are aligned with the ministry's vision and with the worldwide trend towards prevention medicine. Prevention means a better quality of life. Our professional background is based on prevention, and spreading this new culture forms a core part of our mission.

VMDA From a managerial and administrative point of view, prevention is becoming an important aspect of our activities. We always work hard with insurance companies to align our operations with their plans and policies and to encourage preventive examinations. This is an interesting aspect of engendering the new prevention-based culture. We have recently organized a special event for the Health National Day. We take part in and organize events based on the theme of prevention, and the campaign against cancer has been one of the most successful in the country. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in Panama, and initiatives such as this are the best way to improve national awareness of the disease. This was a perfect example of synergy between public and private sector.

How is the hospital working toward the creation of synergies with other medical institutions, both locally and internationally, to facilitate knowledge transfer in the country?

VMDA We have excellent professional relationship with our peers in the private and public healthcare sector in Panama and the region, and have a very close collaborative relation with the Cleveland Clinic in USA, since 2001, in terms of continuing medical and technical education.

What role does technology play at CMP and how would you rate the current status of technological equipment here in Panama? How does CMP differ from other medical institutions?

RCB CMP historically have excelled in its technological emphasis and orientation, launching the first body scanner in the country in the 1980s. We have been leading the sector for decades in the field of technological equipment, as for example, 2015 marks the 15th anniversary of our oncological center, which has the most advanced equipment; we will have the most technologically MRI 3.0 Tesla launched as of today, which would be in service very soon. This is the best gift to Panama and to the region. We have recently launched also new clinic for endoscopy and pulmonary physiology, again with state-of-the-art equipment.

What goals would you like to achieve over the medium term?

VMDA We are optimist of CMP's future. The hospital has set an ambitious investment platform in order to maintain excellence in health service by providing the latest technological equipment and consolidated efficient operations for the coming years. Equally important, we will continue enhancing our human resources.