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Monday, June 12, 2006 

HSA Lab works towards Caribbean accreditation
Monday, June 12, 2006

The Laboratory Services Department at Health Services Authority (HAS) is one of numerous medical laboratories across the Caribbean working on raising its standards so it can become accredited.
Getting prepared for accreditation is part of the initiative to establish a Caribbean accreditation body to ensure that medical laboratories in the region meet international standards. The HSA Laboratory Services Manager Joan Terry said getting accreditation is a lengthy process and she is hoping that HSA will be the first lab among 23 countries to achieve this goal.
"The benefit of getting accreditation is that your standards are recognized internationally," said Ms Terry. "And the organization benefits because being recognized provides assurance of the quality of our services throughout the region."
To prepare for accreditation, Ms Terry, and Medical Technologist, Judith Clarke took a laboratory and quality management programme, which involved training sessions at numerous countries including Trinidad, Dominican Republic and the Bahamas over a three-year period.
Throughout the programme, Ms Terry and Ms Clarke have been incorporating standards learned from those meetings in the Lab here. This programme was implemented by the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC), Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation and was sponsored by the European Union. Ms Terry noted that one of the biggest advantages of these meetings was building a network with other medical laboratory professionals across the region.

"The health of nations becomes the wealth of nations and labs play a vital role in healthcare," she said."
If a lab is not equipped to provide a diagnosis to physicians then they will not be able to treat patients appropriately. That is why we need to strengthen the labs in this region."
One sector that benefits from lab services is that many countries are dependent on tourism she explained. For example, if there was a cruise ship in and there's a problem with some of the tourists in something they came in contact with - it is the medical laboratory, which will help diagnose the problem.
The next phase for the HSA laboratory will be an external assessment by a CAREC team in July, which will then make recommendations on the steps necessary for full accreditation. Ms Terry estimates the HSA will be able to obtain accreditation in 2007 or early 2008. The current focus is to develop the training seminars to provide the information to the HSA staff as well as private medical laboratories so they can start working on accreditation standards. She said that it might be costly to implement these standards but in the long run, raising the quality of medical laboratories will be worth it.
Ms Terry and Ms Clarke have also been qualified to assess other regional laboratories, outside of the Cayman Islands for accreditation. Both Ms Terry and Ms Clarke graduated with distinction from the Laboratory and Quality Management programme with Ms Terry receiving recognition for the student with the second highest course grade. They were also selected to be on the first team of regional assessors for the Caribbean.


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