It is no coincidence that the name Santa Barbara de Oeste appears before Americana in the name Unimed. The local unit of the Medical Cooperative appeared on November 10, 1976 on a street in the central Barbary region, and after six years, it migrated to the neighbor and settled in its current headquarters on Avenida Brasil.
On its 45th anniversary, Unimed is facing the biggest challenge in its history. The Covid-19 pandemic, cooled by vaccination a year and a half later, tested a health system that faced, as in the world, the uncertainty of an unknown disease and the need to provide a robust and well-equipped structure to give the patient an account.
Despite the numerical overburden of care and the cost of inputs influenced by the logic of supply and demand, the cooperative was able to find and implement positive actions for the benefit of the local community, by donating beds to increase beds at Hospital de Campanha in Santa Barbara and relocating structure and labor for vaccination in Americana.
said physician Eduardo Miranda Pinto, Unimed’s chair of management in the region, who spoke in an email interview with LIBERAL last Friday.
By age 45, the district health plan had nearly 100,000 beneficiaries, 300 cooperative physicians, two hospitals, and five laboratories. For the future, the Chairman emphasizes that the sustainable growth that Tawuniya is focused on includes quality customer service, reasonable costs and respect for physicians’ freedom.
“We understand that the future of the client will be more interactive, and therefore, we are constantly monitoring technology investments. However, the sensitivity of doctors must prevail, after all, we will be able to define the parameters of the machines in different ways, but we will never be able to give something that they do not have , which is the sense that they are human,” Eduardo points out.
Read key excerpts from the interview with the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Unimed Santa Bárbara d’Oeste e Americana.
Unimed Santa Bárbara e Americana turns 45 in the midst of an unprecedented health scenario, with the Covid-19 pandemic. Is it the biggest challenge in your history?
The pandemic is often the biggest challenge a generation faces. In this way, we believe this is the biggest challenge the Cooperative has ever faced in its history, which is why we took this moment with a closer look at the clients, collaborating physicians, and staff.
Our first step was to establish the Covid-19 Internal Crisis Committee, led by the Health Care Council, to plan, gather information and reorganize the flow of care, in order to separate patients with flu-like symptoms from others.
Another important measure is to intensify the procurement of equipment, medicines and supplies, so that we can help the community, for example, by providing beds to increase the number of beds at the Hospital Santa Barbara de Oeste for the campaign, as well as to provide our structure and manpower to speed up vaccination against Covid-19 in Americana municipality.
Unimed has also doubled the capacity of the UCI (Intermediate Critical Unit), acquired new mechanical fans and a machine for RT-PCR tests, with the goal of providing faster results to customers. Such measures have allowed to reduce the average length of stay of patients with Covid-19 in intensive care beds and on the ward in our hospital.
What we see today is that despite a significant decrease in the number of Covid-19 cases, the disease has become a severe acute respiratory syndrome of great importance to the health care system. Therefore, our structure is currently set up to permanently integrate these services, both in the ward and in the intensive care unit.
It is also important to say that all investments made by Unimed during the pandemic have been planned and will continue to be available from our own resources to our clients.
Has the pandemic impeded Unimed’s investments and business?
Yes, the epidemic has created a state of uncertainty for everyone, with a decrease in economic activity in general, affecting household income, reducing the number of employees in companies and the consequent loss of customers to operators and cooperatives working in the health field. Added to this is the need to purchase equipment and supplies, which has seen a significant increase, in some cases reaching 1,000%.
Despite this atypical scenario, Unimed Santa Bárbara d’Oeste e Americana has been a highlight because it has managed its resources very well during the pandemic. We never stop helping our patients, and in addition, we cooperate with the public and private health system to provide items so that other people are not left unattended.
In a pandemic, no one walks alone, we are not isolated and we have an obligation to our customers, but we have a greater obligation to the community.
Given the decline in the number of cases of illness, we believe that now is a more opportune time to resume other actions aimed at the growth and development of the cooperative, while always keeping clients at the center of care.
Today, one of members’ biggest complaints is the difficulty in finding an agenda with health plan doctors—some only have a close schedule if it’s a private appointment. This is not an exclusive position for Unimed, but for the sector itself. But what can be done to improve the relationship between the operator, doctors and customers regarding this matter?
This issue has two aspects to note: first, a preference for a professional in a particular field, although there are others with an available agenda – in this case, it is not necessary to talk about the lack of professionals, but the preference itself for the user.
The second deals with areas that college graduates overlook when choosing a major. Some areas of medicine suffer from a lack of interest, such as psychiatry, pediatrics, rheumatology, and others. This is a more complex case, because the medical residency system does not train these professionals and there may be problems across the market in the near future.
We believe that improving wages by the market is one strategy to attract physicians to these areas. We are concerned about this issue and conduct periodic market surveys to anticipate and reduce this risk.
Focusing on primary care, to prevent population health problems before they get worse, is seen as the ideal way to take care of people. How does Unimed work with primary care in the area? Are there any expectations or plans to further invest in this model?
Unimed is a pioneer in the field of integrated healthcare and primary healthcare. Abroad, especially in Europe and Canada, primary care is the basis of the health structure. In Brazil, we still don’t have that family doctor culture.
The search for specialists is much larger than the search for a family doctor, while it should be the other way around. We have a slowdown in this system due to the lack of customer interest in this model. In our understanding, this is an important line of care and we maintain programs with this focus, such as “Living Well”, which monitors and monitors patients over 60 years of age, with the goal of providing comprehensive care to this group, and we recognize the benefits of this type of assistance for this category of clients .
Unimed is a great reference in the structure of private healthcare in Santa Barbara and Americana. How do you maintain or improve this in the coming years?
Our focus is on growth and advancement in quality, professional excellence and attention to technological innovations, providing the best possible service to clients, sustaining the sustainable growth of the cooperative and keeping costs reasonable, while respecting the freedom of the physician within the framework of the physician’s technical and ethical principles.
As I said, we understand that the client’s future will be more interactive, and therefore, we are constantly monitoring technology investments. However, the sensitivity of doctors must prevail, after all, we will be able to define the parameters of machines in different ways, but we will never be able to give something they do not have, which is the sense that they are human beings.
What do you expect from Unimed in Santa Barbara and Americana over the next few years?
I hope it will continue to be a reference in the complementary health sector, forming important regional partnerships that are recognized for their high quality services, with respect and affection for their clients.
Our goal has always been to provide luxury and allow people to evolve and access new services and quality of life. The views remain closer and closer to ESG practices (a set of actions based on three pillars: ESG), while mitigating the generation of hospital waste, entering the clean energy market, progressing in recycling and encouraging actions that contribute to the development of society. in which we operate, such as planting trees and partnerships with public and private initiatives.
Transparency in decisions and improvements in health procedures and medical work are other measures that should always be promoted in a cooperative.
With the encouragement and coordination of Doctor Jabre Guabri, Unimed Santa Bárbara d’Oeste e Americana was the 58th medical cooperative founded in Brazil.
Between the 1990s and 2000s, the expansion, with its own resources, took an important step with the acquisition of the former Pró-Saúde, which became the Unimed Americana Hospital. At this time, the Santa Barbara Hospital also appeared.
Marking its 45th anniversary, Unimed launched a documentary, which was produced by the marketing team, listening to doctors, staff and patients. It can be found on YouTube as “Unimed: 45 Years Inspired by You”.
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