San Juan mayoral candidate Romero presents health platform
By John McPhaul
Miguel Romero, the New Progressive Party (NPP) candidate for mayor of San Juan, presented his health platform Tuesday based on strengthening the medical services offered to San Juan residents through the Municipal Hospital, the health centers (CDTs by the Spanish initials), the clinic for trans people and programs aimed at the population with HIV, among others.
Romero said that through his proposal he seeks to achieve health equity and raise the level of health awareness to improve health and well being in the island capital.
“The health services model that operates in Puerto Rico presents the Capital City with greater challenges than those that affect the other municipalities in Puerto Rico. However, the integration of leaders and key constituents, as well as entities from the health industry and the community, will be central to taking measures and designing policies that improve health,” the candidate said at a press conference.
The San Juan District senator also noted that the goals of his health platform are aligned with the objectives of health promotion and disease prevention found in the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ “Healthy People 2030” initiative.
“The municipality must strengthen its service structure while considering the challenge of fewer doctors and health professionals, the growing number of patients with the greatest need who prefer to receive medical care in the facilities closest to their surroundings, and the need to identify and attract external funds that make the development of quality health services for the residents of San Juan viable,” he said.
Romero presented a series of initiatives to be implemented by the municipality to strengthen and expand the residency programs at San Juan Municipal Hospital, in alliance with the Medical Sciences Campus of the University of Puerto Rico, so that the municipality has more health services and at the same time has a more efficient fiscal operation that allows more economic resources to be brought to the municipality. This in turn, he said, allows services and treatments to be offered to people who lack access to a health plan, while concentrating resources on community prevention.
“If we enhance the capacity of our hospital to be a teaching medical center, then medical services will be developed under the highest standards,” he said. “In addition, we increase the medical residencies necessary for the development of health services and we increase the number of doctors who can provide services in health centers.”
The president of the San Juan NPP said he will bet on alliances with health providers for specialized services.
“With the network of specialized medical services, the creation of alliances with private hospitals with specialties will be promoted to provide health services to San Juan citizens with great need for care and little access to these services,” Romero said. “Meanwhile, the availability of family clinics in San Juan will be increased through the integration of municipal clinics and different health providers -- public, private and non-profit.”
The candidate added that working through alliances can also strengthen the management of emergency rooms and CDTs -- diagnosis and treatment centers -- through service agreements, without selling or disposing of medical facilities. Romero also proposed that, in the municipal health facilities, as well as with their providers, there will be a prescription drug program with significant discounts for patients of the health system through the provisions of Section 340.B of the federal Public Health Law.
Likewise, the candidate promotes making San Juan a leader and coordinator of technological integration, through a cooperative model among providers to develop a health exchange platform integrated into the Puerto Rico Health Information Network. Through that initiative, Romero said he will seek economic integration and functionality in the capital’s health system, in addition to access to medicines for all who use the system. The goal in part will be to maximize and audit access to federal funds so that each indigent medical patient has direct access to their medical information, laboratories and studies in order to guarantee appropriately directed health care.
Romero, a former La Fortaleza chief of staff and secretary of Labor and Human Resources, has also proposed the establishment of a registry of the population with special medical needs that require individual attention during an emergency. Through a census of this population, he said, it will be possible to coordinate the location of residents whose medical conditions exceed the capacities of a standard shelter, but which are not serious enough to require hospitalization.