Horacio Garza
Director General
CHRISTUS MUGUERZA Health System
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View from the Top

Social, Educational Commitment Differentiate Network

By Miriam Bello | Tue, 07/13/2021 - 09:00

Q: CHRISTUS MUGUERZA has earned a place among the most important medical networks in the country. How has this impacted your patient’s outcomes?

A: The network’s favorable position was driven by our family- and patient-centric approach to decision-making, which created high-quality, safe areas in all our medical facilities. Due to these strict standards, vast medical experience and positive results, CHRISTUS MUGUERZA has obtained a privileged position among care providers in Mexico.

As we continue physically expanding, so does our commitment to the patient and the care provision we offer. The international safety and quality standards of the network are managed through a strategic system that will ensure a continuous level of quality among our different representations.

Q: How does CHRISTUS MUGUERZA ensure the same quality of attention throughout its entire network?

A: Our quality management program involves every stage of the hospital chain, from food safety to infrastructure safety; in total, the program encompasses 12 areas. As a social-driven company, CHRISTUS MUGUERZA’s positive results are reinvested in improvement tools such as technology, IT and innovation in therapeutic processes. This last tool allows the network to comply with its social commitment to the healthcare community and patients through constant updates on the best data-based solutions.

Q: What factors have determined CHRISTUS MUGUERZA’s form of expansion?

A: We have a geomarket study model that helps us determine in what regions we can potentially be of greater service. Within this model, we analyze the possibility of installing a hospital considering the population index, income per family, the crime rate in the zone and unemployment rates, among other data points. Based on this, we determine the type of facility we could establish for that region.

Q: As a nonprofit organization, what are CHRISTUS MUGUERZA’s investment priorities for the network?

A: We are resuming our expansion goals and improving some of our current operations. For instance, we are building a new hospital in the metropolitan region of Monterrey. In this hospital, we will install a positron emission tomography with a cyclotron (PET/CT), which will support specialized radiopharmaceutical therapies. We also have plans to improve our medical devices. We are building integral cancer centers with state-of-the-art equipment, including a linear particle accelerator.

In addition, CHRISTUS MUGUERZA is expanding its adoption of augmented reality tools. We have already performed augmented reality-led procedures for some patients, with successful results. Likewise, we are using AI to support decision-making among nurses to prevent complications or emergencies. 

Q: CHRISTUS MUGUERZA has a robust hospital interconnection. How has this offer translated to a better internal performance?

A: CHRISTUS MUGUERZA has the one and only fully digital hospital in the country. This hospital, located in Saltillo, digitalized all its processes, from management to patient records, and integrated them into the same system.

In the future, we plan to standardize all our operational models, including the digital transformation of our three different facility types: ambulatory care clinics, emergency units and high-tech hospitals.

We are well aware that technology supports the irreplaceable medical and nursing staff of a hospital. For CHRISTUS MUGUERZA, technology does what humans cannot; robots will never have empathy, creativity or compassion. As a result, they will always be a complement to the medical practice, never a replacement. Algorithms, formulations and improved AI solutions can be used by medical professionals to provide better practices and continue improving care.

Q: What differentiates CHRISTUS MUGUERZA’s educational proposition for doctors and nurses?

A: One of our social commitments is to become instruments for the development of medical professionals. CHRISTUS MUGUERZA is a hospital-school network with clinical summits for specialization programs. We have around 150 doctors training in 10 different medical specialties and three subspecialties. All of them are post-graduate students from Universidad de Monterrey (UDEM) and from Universidad Popular Autonoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP). We provide these students with academic and maintenance scholarships, coupled with the educational offer of clinical practices within our hospitals. To complement their training, these students carry out research activities and are only able to graduate after producing a research project approved by a high-level committee. As a result, CHRISTUS MUGUERZA trains specialized doctors able to analyze research papers and generate their own to contribute to medical practices.

On the nursing side, we have two schools in Monterrey and Chihuahua. The school in Monterrey is part of a strategic collaboration with UDEM and is likely the only nursing school accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). This accreditation allows our students to take part in specialized training in the US and gives them the opportunity to become a certified nurse and able to work in the US. This makes our nursing school in Monterrey unique. The school also provides about 26 different programs, from basic nursing to specialized nursing programs and a nursing bachelor’s degree.

At our Chihuahua school, we are partnered with the Universidad Autonoma de Chihuahua. This school has also delivered successful results and responded to the state’s needs.

Thanks to our membership with Christus Health, we have around 25 graduates with an MA in Nursing Sciences granted by the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. The membership also gives our interns the opportunity to rotate hospitals at one of the Christus Health facilities. 

Q: Mexico has a very limited number of specialists and nurses. What approach could the sector take to remedy this? 

A: Mexico is going through a nursing crisis. Part of this problem is caused by the lack of recognition of nursing as a professional practice on the same level as any other bachelor’s degree. This is discouraging for young students wanting to specialize in the field. This is a serious matter because at least 70 percent of a patient’s contact at the hospital is with a nurse. The nursing staff is in charge on ensuring that treatments are effective for patients. We need to find the source of this problem and understand the implications it has on our health services. 

As for doctors, Mexico has plenty. Per year, we have around 50,000 doctors who want to begin their specializations. However, the number of spaces on offer is about 10,000, which is an enormous gap. Mexico has doctors but not enough training opportunities for them. Likewise, most specialists are concentrated in big cities, leading to the poor clinical development of medium and small cities. For example, we receive calls from people in different states who need to be transported by air to another state to get proper medical attention. The National Health Development Plan could further focus on closing this gap and propel private and public medicine in small and medium cities. 

Q: As a reference institution, what are CHRISTUS MUGUERZA’s contributions to the move from corrective to preventive healthcare?

A: Corrective healthcare has led to a significant increase in Mexico’s healthcare expenditure. The established prevention programs have areas of opportunity but the problem is that the system pays more for corrective medicine than for preventive medicine. For instance, in the private sector, it is common for insurance companies to deny compensation for preventive medicine; the compensation is paid when corrective procedures are applied.

It is necessary to change this approach. Through its industrial medicine branch, CHRISTUS MUGUERZA provides preventive healthcare to 85 companies, helping them to avoid accidents. Moreover, we provide preventive medicine for weight control, general check-ups and services for early disease detection or prevention.

We also have community service clinics where the CHRISTUS MUGUERZA Foundation provides services to around 100,000 patients per day through first-contact clinics for people who lack proper healthcare access. Moreover, we have community medicine days that provide health education to children.

Q: CHRISTUS MUGUERZA implemented a quality response to face the COVID-19 pandemic. How did the network ensure vaccination for medical professionals?

A: During this period, we focused on providing care through technology such as robots and IT solutions. We also focused on protecting our staff. We are in line with the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign. Prior to the pandemic, CHRISTUS MUGUERZA worked with Nuevo Leon’s Ministry of Health on other vaccination campaigns. This one was no exception. However, the system for COVID-19 vaccination was different as its control was assigned by the federal government to the medical corps of the National Guard.

CHRISTUS MUGUERZA keeps its staff informed to ensure they get their vaccines on time. We have successfully vaccinated 99 percent of our staff. The only exceptions were due to external factors such as maternity or sick leave.

 

CHRISTUS MUGUERZA started operations in Monterrey in 1934 and joined the CHRISTUS Health system in 2001. The group has 11 hospitals, four ambulatory clinics and 14 outpatient medical centers as well as five social assistance clinics.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst