Dr. Worley’s Worries

February 1st, 2006
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[private] v4-2-Interview-Dr. Worley Polo Galindo Clinic in Punta Gorda has survived for the last three years, but over time it had reduced its staff, it no longer offers 24 emergency services and its plan for cooperation with Honduran government to provide community wide health service has practically collapsed. The clinic is not financially viable and its leaders are trying to find new ways of keeping it afloat. In the fall of 2005 M.R.I (Medical Relief International) had backed out from taking over the clinic, in part, because the government deal debacle.

For now at least, the Honduran government program to pay $1.50 monthly per capita fee to a nonprofit, independent healthcare provider remains a theory. If ever implemented, the program could serve as a model of creating an efficient healthcare for other Central American countries. Bay Islands VOICE talked to Dr. Ron Worley, founder and president of the board of directors of the ‘From the heart Foundation,” that begun the Punta Gorda Clinic to find out what happened.

Bay Island Voice: Will Polo Galindo Clinic still be in business six months from now?
Dr. Worley: No doubt. We are struggling financially and we have struggled for the last three years since we’ve been opened. It’s required additional infusion of funding on a monthly base to meet the operational cost but we are committed to make this thing work.
B.I.V: How does the signed government agreement framework look?
Dr. W: The clinic would provide basic medical care, expensive surgery or cat scans or other technologies that are beyond the scope of the primary medical care would have to go to a hospital or to the main land. But to provide ongoing emergency care, OB care, deliveries… In addition to that the government agree to provide the drugs that they buy for their health care facilities and sell them to us at there cost. (…) There’s no religious motivation, there’s no financial gain to be achieve here, just done out of an interested to improve the life of a small group of people. And they created a model for that, which could be replicated in many places through out Central America. The frustration is that we need the help of the federal government to do the part that they said they will provide it. The potential is that it could be replicated that it could impact more than just fifteen thousand people. It could impact hundred of thousand of people as a matter of fact. It could take a lot of stress off of the ministry of health (…) I think [the entire project is now] at risk and I don’t hope to have a new president that is as supportive of this clinic as president Maduro has been.
B.I.V.: What’s your biggest frustration with the situation that is occurring right now?
Dr. W.: In January of 2003 we began negotiation with the ministry of health of the federal government. (…) We expected substantial amount of support from the federal government. President Maduro’s tri part type [healthcare] model included local governmental support from the N.G.O that came from international resources and federal government support. Since that time the local government has provided the property for the building to be on, and the N.G.O has provided over $350,000 cash that’s come basically from the U.S.A to this community. (…) We reached an agreement in May of 2004. It took eighteen months to get to an agreement that was then signed with the representative of ministry of health and a representative of the United Nations and the clinic. Following the signing of the contract no money has ever appeared.
B.I.V: Why do you think that is? Why has nothing happened?
Dr. W: We had great support from President Maduro and from the former ministry of health -Rozardo. So the people at the top want this project to occur and they told the people that are working for them to make this happen. Somewhere in the chain of command there’re people who muddy the water and from the desire to have it happen at the top to the actual implementation something goes wrong. The President [Maduro] said: “look whatever it takes get this project moving, I want this to happen,” that was January [2005] and since that time not a single lempira has come our way.
B.I.V: Why haven’t you received more assistance?
Dr. W: There’s always some resistance and anxiety. In the last several years I am told that over 250 clinics had to close in Honduras because of the lack of funding. Now a model like this has the ability to bring more comprehensive health care to more people for less money for the government. The government is mired in bureaucracy and 70% of the cost of medical treatment is burned up in bureaucracy. (…) They [the government] can see a large segment of their population been treated for only a $1.50 a month and that saves them all of their effort and bureaucracy. We handle the whole administration of the clinic, the staffing and they stay out of it completely except for this small payment. It’s a heck of a deal for the government. [/private]

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