March 27, 2014 | At one of its new medical centers, the Argentine city of Mar del Plata is linking its outpatient facilities and medical centers – making the center a reference model for public health in Latin America.
Interview: Andreas Fink
Photos: Javier Pierini
General Manager Dr. Alejandro Cristaldi, explains why the Centro de Especialidades Médicas Ambulatorias (CEMA) is a reference model for public health in Latin America and why Siemens was asked to be a major provider of in-vitro and in-vivo technology.
Dr. Cristaldi, you are the general manager of CEMA. For you, what does CEMA stand for?
CEMA started as an idea in 2008 when Mayor Gustavo Pulti and Health Secretary Dr. Alejandro Ferro recognized the need to unify the first level of public healthcare with the third level. This means integrating the 33 ambulatory centers located around the whole municipality of General Pueyrredón with our two public hospitals. CEMA serves patients who cannot be treated in our ambulatory centers, but who do not need to be hospitalized. And CEMA works as an analytical hub – here we make the lab analysis for the whole network and we have a radiology “bunker” where we can evaluate the X-ray images taken in seven ambulatory centers.
So is CEMA completely digitalized?
Yes, and this is a big step in the public health sector. Before, we had everything on paper. Now – starting with CEMA – we are in the process of digitalizing and integrating the whole network of our 33 health centers. Our goal is to offer medical excellence and save on costs at the same time. The IT system in our laboratory information system was implemented in close cooperation with Siemens.
Why did you choose Siemens to provide the complete analytical hardware for the CEMA laboratory?
Siemens provides us with high performance technology at a very attractive price. We were able to improve our output significantly without employing more staff. Before, we could carry out 350 determinations per day manually; now we can perform 800 analyses per hour.
CEMA also chose Siemens as a partner for computed tomography. Why did you decide to install the multislice SOMATOM Emotion 16 CT?
First, this CT system uses the least amount of radiation in the whole city. This is very important in pediatrics. Second, it is extremely fast. We can perform a complete scan of the abdomen and thorax within a few minutes. Third, it can be used with patients who weigh up to 200 kilograms. This is a very important feature for us.
Is it an advantage to have in-vitro and in-vivo technology from the same provider?
Definitely. First, because Siemens technology is top class, and second, because it fosters a very good relationship. Siemens assists us greatly here in Mar del Plata and also via telephone. Our employees had never worked with this kind of technology before. They participated in the training programs that Siemens organized, and Siemens technicians have come here to teach. We maintain very close contact as situations can arise any day that we need to solve together with Siemens. It is good to have all the lab technology from one provider because it is better to refer to one company than to several. Siemens has really helped us a lot.