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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

New twists in UHWI tech system saga | Lead Tales

AS The $500-million info expertise scandal rocking the Mona Campus of The College of the West Indies (UWI) deepens, former Principal Professor Archibald McDonald has admitted that there’s “strong foundation” for the contract for the Hospital Info Administration System (HIMS) software program that’s 4 years previous its April 2017 supply date be renegotiated.

Making it clear that he was talking in a private capability, McDonald admitted that “poor administration” was behind the limping undertaking on the College Hospital of the West Indies, which is being funded by UWI Mona.

“I totally agree that the 5 to 6 years because the undertaking began is simply too lengthy, even with the COVID-19 pandemic,” McDonald instructed The Sunday Gleaner final night. “There are, nonetheless, a number of causes for this, however all of them quantity to poor administration.”

He added: “Though I’m disenchanted within the gradual progress of the set up, I believe the UHWI ought to preserve the undertaking and renegotiate the contract. There’s strong foundation for this, given the truth that the software program has not been put in in any of the UWI entities and the UWI has little or no urge for food for this.”

The Sunday Gleaner has additionally found that the implementing firm, Superior Built-in Methods (AIS), has nearer ties with the limping undertaking than beforehand recognized.

It raises additional questions in regards to the single-sourced procurement and due diligence related to the never-ending spending of thousands and thousands of {dollars} on the undertaking.

The September 8, 2015 contract exhibits that Mona agreed to purchase HIMS from Well being Administration Methods (HAS), an opaque St Lucia-registered firm.

Mona paid US$1.25 million for the software program, which is being carried out by the Douglas Halsall-led AIS, a Jamaican included firm, which the contract stated would supply “native administration”.

AIS, which collects US$600,000 from The UWI in annual upkeep charges, has a stake in Suvarna Technosoft, the India-based firm that developed HIMS.

There’s little or no element, nonetheless, on the possession of HAS and it’s unclear so far whether or not The UWI Mona knew exactly to whom it was paying thousands and thousands of {dollars}.

The contract was signed by then principal, McDonald, who’s now the deputy chairman of the UHWI, whom some board members need gone over the fiasco.

In an earlier interplay with our information workforce final Thursday, requested whether or not he knew any of the principals of HAS, McDonald urged that HAS was related to Suvarna and that two officers from India visited the Mona Campus throughout the contract negotiations.

“That is basically an Indian firm in partnership with AIS as their native agent,” he stated.

Nonetheless, information filed with the Jamaica Inventory Alternate (JSE) recommend that HAS might have principals nearer house.

A number of filings by First Rock Capital Holdings, an funding holding firm additionally included in St Lucia, level out that Halsall, a director, can be a “related get together” of HAS.

Halsall collectively holds 924,000 shares with Stacey Peart, along with the three.9 million held by HAS, based on First Rock’s report back to shareholders for the quarter ending March 31, 2021 that was posted on the JSE’s web site on Could 13.

The opposite two corporations listed as ‘related’ have been Q-Mall Restricted and AIS, that are owned by Halsall.

Halsall didn’t reply to questions looking for affirmation that he’s a shareholder, director and useful proprietor of HAS, which additionally contains different kin.

The businessman is well-known for his many years of labor in expertise, notably by means of the introduction of ATMs in Jamaica and in medical insurance swipe-card funds.

It has additionally emerged that across the time that the Mona Campus was participating HAS, the Cayman Islands authorities terminated a US$13-million contract with AIS Cayman Ltd for the implementation of a affected person well being claims adjudication system.

“The AIS system isn’t working,” acknowledged Alden McLaughlin, the then premier of the British abroad territory, on the issues that plagued the roll-out in public hospitals, and reported by the Cayman Compass in Could 2016.

The contract was inked in 2010 following displays led by Halsall on CarePay card system pushed by his firm in Jamaica.

The contract ended amid a corruption scandal involving the Cayman’s Well being Companies Authority and its former board chairman, Canover Watson, who’s serving time in jail on bribery and fraud convictions.

Watson was punished for utilizing his place on the authority to pursue the contract after which diverting funds to private accounts in a racket that concerned his then enterprise accomplice, Jeffrey Webb, the disgraced former FIFA prime official.

A pharmacy system that was additionally being carried out with Suvarna – the corporate behind HIMS at UHWI – was additionally to be phased out in late 2016 and a brand new supplier chosen.

“AIS Cayman was a licensee of our medical insurance claims adjudication platform. This settlement was terminated,” stated Shekar Reddy, director of well being functions at AIS Jamaica, declining to clarify why the deal was dropped at an finish.

McDonald stated he “informally” learnt of the problems in Cayman, however couldn’t say whether or not Mona took warning in its pursuit of the HIMS undertaking on the UHWI.

The HIMS undertaking was anticipated to digitise the UHWI’s information and work processes, however six years after the contract signing, it’s but to achieve a lot of the hospital’s wards, though functioning in some departments.

OVER BUDGET

A 2018 UHWI undertaking standing report, produced inside two years of the Cayman state of affairs, was scathing of HIMS as showing to be “nonetheless in growth” with the undertaking working past its deadline, over funds, and fraught with issues.

In contrast to the UHWI which must comply with authorities procurement tips, the regional governance of The UWI offers it higher autonomy over the award of contracts.

However the former principal is rejecting claims that routing the contract by means of The UWI and never the UHWI was an try to bypass Jamaica’s procurement regulation, noting that it made sense for Mona to be the procuring entity as a result of it was house to a lot of the scientific amenities the place HIMS can be rolled out.

“We bought recommendation from the authorized minds, who stated they didn’t see something mistaken, however we went additional. We went to the Workplace of the Contractor Common (now subsumed into the Integrity Fee) and requested if there was an issue with it they usually stated no as a result of the UHWI is a sister establishment,” he defined.

The HIMS undertaking, McDonald stated, was taken on following a presentation from AIS.

The undertaking was later accepted by the board of the Mona Well being Companies, a subsidiary of the college established in 2007 to generate evaluate for the College of Medical Sciences, he stated.

There was additionally “no objection” from the Finance and Common Functions Committee of the Mona.

As principal, McDonald headed each committees.

Nonetheless, regardless of McDonald’s confidence that all the things was above board and that “I’ve nothing to cowl up”, the present Mona administration of Professor Dale Webber is but to verify that the undertaking was correctly accepted and went by means of the suitable procurement processes.

“It will shocking if a contract like that didn’t go earlier than the Campus Council and I don’t recollect it did,” stated an official of the very best decision-making physique at Mona.

DUE DILIGENCE QUESTIONS

In a June 11 assertion, Mona stated it couldn’t communicate on procurement and due diligence processes due to an ongoing evaluate began in 2019, a 12 months after Webber took over from McDonald, who was principal from 2013.

McDonald was irked by the assertion, which began out by distancing the present administration from his tenure by noting that the HIMS “was a undertaking carried out in 2016 and “precedes the incumbency” of Mona’s present senior administration workforce.

“There’s hardly any must level that out. We’re working a relay. There is no such thing as a level in tearing down your predecessor. You’ve by no means heard me make a unfavorable assertion about Gordon Shirley,” he stated referring to Professor Shirley whom he changed in 2013.

A day after The Sunday Gleaner’s June 13 breaking story, Herman Athias, the UHWI’s chief info and expertise officer, resigned with out stating a causes.

Nonetheless, senior hospital sources say Athias, who joined the UHWI in December 2019, effectively after the undertaking began, clashed on quite a few events with senior officers there over the HIMS.

Tempers flared

“There was a bruising board assembly just lately involving the senior medical management the place tempers flared. He needed to go way back and that assembly adopted by the publication of the story made all of it simpler,” stated an official, who didn’t need to be named as a result of they weren’t authorised to talk on the difficulty.

The UHWI’s chief govt officer, Kevin Allen, has directed all inquiries to The UWI, whereas Chairman Professor Evan Duggan and Dr Carl Bruce, the medical chief of workers, didn’t reply to questions submitted final Thursday.

Bruce has urged our information workforce to go to the hospital to watch the HIMS in operation.

Duggan presided over a contentious board assembly final Wednesday, the place McDonald reportedly defended his function within the undertaking, even because the chairman voiced his considerations in regards to the undertaking his predecessor, James Moss-Solomon, stated was “bleeding” the hospital.

Some board members quietly need McDonald to go, with one arguing that “there must be accountability” due to the “clear absence of due diligence”.

“What are we telling taxpayers after we are spending thousands and thousands of {dollars} on a undertaking that simply can’t be carried out? The college and the hospital are underneath extreme monetary stress. And this should simply slide?” argued the senior hospital official, who stated “sturdy political help” for McDonald means he won’t be simply “dislodged”.

“Is Tufton going simply sit by? Is the Authorities joyful that over $500 million has simply been spent like that with little or no to point out?” added the member, referring to Well being Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, who stated he has requested Duggan for a short on the state of affairs. A deadline was not supplied.

The Mona principal attended the digital assembly, however reportedly stated little.

Tufton’s ministry is about to embark on a billion-dollar well being digitisation undertaking, however has up to now failed to supply the names of committee members the minister introduced would oversee the undertaking.

A provider is but to be chosen and a few observers consider the timing of the HIMS complaints is to stop Halsall’s agency from profitable the contract.

Whereas Mona has declared the primary prices because the HIMS licence payment and annual upkeep, the UHWI has reportedly needed to pay vital prices to “re-engineer” its amenities.

Bills associated to the implementation weren’t shared with workers at a June 10 UHWI workers assembly, the place the top of finance, Dwight Salmon, stated that manoeuvring the present monetary 12 months means “we’d should be very, very strict when it comes to how we utilise the restricted monetary assets that’s out there to us”.

UWI Vice Chancellor Professor Hilary Beckles is but to reply questions on whether or not he would help an unbiased audit of the contract at a campus he stated wanted a “revolution” due to the monetary burden it has been on the regional establishment.

The Integrity Fee has acknowledged receiving complaints in regards to the undertaking from a whistle-blowing group. By regulation, it’s barred from saying whether or not any investigation is underneath approach, though any probe is probably going restricted to the UHWI.

The UWI Mona isn’t wholly topic to Jamaican regulation.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com

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