TBY talks to Rafael Cohen, CEO of Pacífica Salud, on the heath sector.

Rafael Cohen

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the hospital?

The hospital needs human resources. Panama currently faces a deep shortage of human resources in healthcare. It is easier to get an Uber job today than study for nine years to get a nursing degree. Many love to provide services, though not necessarily in healthcare. That is our basic challenge, which has resulted in us trying to incorporate people who have two jobs. Changing that language of quality and service is extremely difficult, and we do not have enough people in Panama.

What is your strategy to overcome this lack of qualified talent?

Our main strategy is becoming a university hospital, and we have already started to see great results. We are investing heavily in our own people getting master licenses or diplomas for ICU, neonatal care, and OB-GYN. We are creating talent within the company and giving them all the tools, money, and time they need.

What regulations need to be in place for the healthcare sector to grow and improve?

The first thing we need to do is to think about the human resources and education, and how we can incentivize people to study healthcare. We have formed excellent agreements with universities in Panama. We help them and are trying to find ways to survive in terms of having enough personnel to fulfill two or three facilities. We have to create our own system of generating the same people because we need almost 400 people for the new hospital, including specialists, doctors, and nurses. It is difficult, though not impossible; when we have everyone working together, we can achieve anything.