Hartford HealthCare aided Jamaica during the pandemic. Now the hospital and the country are deepening their partnership

·3 min read

Keith Grant, senior system director for infection prevention at Hartford HealthCare, sees himself as a bridge to bring medical resources to his native Jamaica, but he says his work to expand the partnership between the hospital network and the island nation isn’t personal.

“I was born in Jamaica, I was cultivated by Jamaica, I was taught by Jamaica. I grew up in America. I’ve been serving in the military for 16 years. I will bleed for this flag… but we’re clinicians, we know the data. From an infrastructure perspective, I know I have resources that I can reach out to. They need it, I have access to and we can bridge it. That’s what we’re supposed to do. I think that’s our purpose,” he said.

Hartford HealthCare has been able to donate medical equipment — set to be decommissioned — that is currently on its way to Jamaica, where it will support a new hospital being created in an underserved area in Jamaica.

Grant talked about the background of how he was able to develop the program with the Jamaican consulate. The partnership began during the height of COVID-19, when Consul General, Alsion Wilson, O.D., reached out to Hartford HealthCare for tools that might help manage the virus and the hospital network responded, Grant said.

“We built a process that would help manage it from a national perspective. We designed the toolkits for that, and that started the relationship,” including direct consultation on complicated cases, Grant said. “Additionally, we’ve added a number of philanthropic avenues and processes to help Jamaica to continue to develop their health care system. I think the most important thing is, as this has shown, is to actually have partnerships where people come in to learn more about our process.”

Hartford HealthCare President and CEO Jeffrey A. Flaks said that there are plans to expand this partnership in the near future by focusing on more training opportunities.

“There’ll be more training, there’s going to be some potential mission work, where some of our people go there to perform services and procedures,” Flaks said. “In Jamaica, we already are caring for people who have needed certain procedures, and select instances that are provided their care is being facilitated to come here. So the relationship is continuing to get deeper and continue to grow and evolve.”

Flaks also said that there could be potential for the Consulate and Hartford HealthCare to work to help train more nurses, due to the staffing crisis that exists in certain nursing and other medical services.

Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, Minister of Health and Wellness for the Jamaican Contingency, cited the close relationship between Hartford HealthCare and Jamaica for his visit. Most importantly, he is on a mission in the U.S. of building and strengthening relationships.

“I’m on a mission here in the U.S. visiting a number of states and a number of health systems to look at the post-COVID era to assess weaknesses, to build partnerships, to strengthen the relationships,” he said.

Tufton also said that he looks forward to the existing partnership progressing in tangible ways.

“Faculty exchange, through clinical rotation, through the use of technology, whether through simulation or hybrid model of training. Secondly, through the exchange of specialist skills to work in both destinations, so that all can be better,” he said.

Consul General Alsion Wilson, O.D., said that since there is a large population of Jamaican residents in the state, it is important for them to have an alliance with Hartford HealthCare.

“We all know that we have a very large body of diasporans that resides in the state of Connecticut, It’s very, very important for us to formulate an alliance with an institution, such as Hartford HealthCare, so that we can work collectively together to build on some of the issues, resolve some issues that we’re seeing locally in Jamaica, in the health sector,” Wilson said.

“We hope that very soon in short order, we’ll have an MOU [memorandum of understanding] in place between the Ministry of Health and Hartford Hospital,” she said.