January 21, 2021
As a private entity that provides sampling for COVID-19 tests in Jamaica, Para Caribe Consulting wishes to clarify several statements that were made in a front-page article published in the Sunday Gleaner on January 17, 2021.
Para Caribe Consulting provides workplace wellness solutions for organisations in both public and private sectors, including training, seminars, health screening, immunization, infection prevention and control, and employee assistance programs.
The consulting firm wishes to advise clients and associates that appropriate infection prevention measures are rigorously followed at all times at its facility, and guarantees the integrity of samples by ensuring that they are only tested at authorized laboratories. Para Caribe also wishes to reassure that it conducts its business and patient care with the highest level of integrity and safety, in keeping with the standards that are stipulated by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
“Our patients’ health and peace of mind come first for us, whether it is in a workplace setting or when seeking health solutions directly,” Director of Para Caribe Consulting Dr. Yohann White stated.
“We are constantly fine-tuning and using technology (such as telemedicine) to update our methods and procedures. We are in tune with all the latest developments in this rapidly changing COVID-19 environment, and reinforce the highest standards at all times in collecting samples from our patients.”
Lack of identification of persons being sampled
Para Caribe recognizes the clear need for verification of the identities of persons seeking medical laboratory investigations, including COVID-19 related tests. While grappling with the dynamic variables associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the company is now beginning to implement a rigid identification system to safeguard the integrity of its sampling process. This will continue to be fine-tuned in collaboration with the updated protocols from the health authorities, constantly realigning its response to the evolving situation.
Sampling vs Testing
Para Caribe also wishes to emphasise that no actual laboratory testing is conducted at its site. A short-term site for sample collection (e.g., swabbing of nose and/or throat) was established to assist our existing clients who had difficulty accessing testing for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19. Following sample collection, Para Caribe consults with laboratories that are authorized to conduct testing, to identify which can accommodate samples from its clients. These samples may include polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, as well as antigen and antibody testing.
Like other healthcare providers, Para Caribe has over the years been submitting samples to authorized laboratories for specialized testing such as chicken pox antibody levels and CD4 counts. In relation to the fees associated with the sampling, the company advises that one facility previously charged a fee for COVID-19 related PCR testing. These costs were passed on to the patients. When this fee was later removed, no cost for PCR testing was passed on to patients.
Since the easing of restrictions on international travel, Para Caribe started receiving requests for testing for travel clearance, which it has sought to accommodate on a limited basis. To cover the costs for personal protective equipment, transportation of samples to the laboratory, rental of a short-term suite, and medical consultation, including Telemedicine, to counsel patients about their results or about symptoms, clients are asked to contribute a fee. Patients are exempted from payment in some situations – if they indicate that they are experiencing financial challenges, for example.
“At Para Caribe our team of highly qualified professionals uses its evidence-based research to design health and wellness initiatives at the highest international standards,” said Dr. White. “Prevention is a critical focus for us; and health screening, immunizations and counseling are key components of our work. We take our responsibilities for our clients’ health and welfare very seriously.”