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MEDPATH CLINICAL LAB:
A S u c c e s s f u l S i m o n E x p e r i m e n t
Quite early in the emergence of the lab, one of the things Dr and ahead somewhat musically, in his thrust to diversify his earning
Mrs Simon sought to do was demystify the aftermath of a patient’s capacity through other spheres, while still maintaining his primary
experience after visiting a doctor or getting any major medical exam. vocation in medicine.
Dr Lester and Mrs Norma
a bit of rest to attend practice sessions
and the desire to do more work in pathology,
Most often, it was observed that patients were not clear on what
In Jamaica, where he resides, Sawandi is becoming a well-known
Simon consider themselves
with this year’s calypsonians, where he is a
that Dr Simon made a somewhat reluctant
their diagnosis really meant, or what the required tests were meant to
producer of modern music and a popular alternative DJ. Daughter,
saxophonist.
move to open a private facility. This
unearth. Through the Medpath lab letter, a publication which catered
normal people, with a normal
Sabriya, who also started out along the path to medicine, eventually
to the general public on one hand and doctors on the other, people
Since this issue of Business Focus focuses
alleviated the endemic constraints of a
changed her course, and is becoming a prized performance poet,
family, living a normal life. The
were able to get a better sense of what things meant. These lab letters
on health, most of our efforts will be
government-owned and run establishment,
photographer and interior decorator. Both parents realise the
word extraordinary is, however
were put into postboxes, distributed at the airport, and a variety of
concentrated on Medpath Clinical Lab,
and it became clear that new opportunities,
importance of allowing their children the freedom to choose their
new discoveries and ways to contribute more
locations throughout the island, and also available at the lab.
appropriate to describe these
the aesthetically pleasing haven on lower St own path, and it is for this reason that there is no pressure on either
Mary’s Street, owned and operated by the
positively to society were ahead.
Meanwhile, the challenges of delving into a business for one who of them to return to manage the family business. Mrs Simon adds,
individuals who exemplify hard
Simons.
“Medpath Clinical Lab – We care about
was at the time more technological than business minded welcomed “We are never perfect parents, and there is no home with perfect
work, sound moral fibre and
your health.” If you’ve ever listened to
the addition of Mrs Simon, who was at the time just coming to the parents, but if we are honest, our children are a reflection of the
Dr Simon was trained in a hospital
a great example, both in the
Observer Radio, you will have at some
end of a long sabbatical from her longstanding post as a foreign environment in which they were raised.”
setting, and had never really considered
administrative and professional
language teacher at the Antigua Grammar School. Initially, the lab
anything outside that arena. Upon returning
point heard one of the 15 public service
Currently, both husband and wife are busy and productive, yet
consisted of only Dr and Mrs Simon, assisted by one technician.
medical arena and in their day-to-
to Antigua in 1983, he worked at the
announcements supplied by Medpath,
still humble in their achievements and contributions. Mrs Simon
Today, there is a full complement of 11. Mrs Simon admits “it
Holberton Hospital as the country’s lone
demonstrating that educating the public is of
hopes to continue sharpening her saw by taking on a few courses
day lives.
was intimidating at first”. Recognising the need to upgrade her
resident pathologist. Contrary to popular
paramount importance to the husband and
that will this time serve more fulfillment than utilitarian purposes.
skill base, and to re-engineer herself to complement her new career,
belief, pathology is not consumed simply
wife team.
Dr Simon, meanwhile, who insists on downplaying his writing
T
aken individually, both Norma and
Mrs Simon undertook and completed an MBA at the University of
with post mortems, or studying the dead.
With the opening of the lab in 1991,
ability, dreams one day of becoming a science fiction writer, working
Lester merit their own full-scale article.
the West Indies Cave Hill Campus. By so doing, she ensured the
In fact, 90% of a pathologist’s work is
two main standards were sought. One was a
on his golf game, spending more time at the beach, returning to his
At the time of this interview, as usual, they
efficiency and administrative success of the lab.
concentrated on the living. While at the
mission to educate the public, and the other
childhood musical instrument - the violin, sharpening his saxophone
were both quite busy, and preparing for the
hospital, a number of improvements were
to provide an efficient service with the ability
In recent years, there has been an emergence of other labs on ability, oh and I almost forgot – waiting for the day when a traffic
second half of their day. For Mrs Simon,
sought, but despite constant attempts
to provide accurate results in a relatively
island. This fact has decreased neither Medpath’s effectiveness nor light will be positioned at the top of St Mary’s Street.
it meant getting prepared for her Rotary
to make a difference, systemic problems
short time, quite unlike what could have
capacity. Both Simons say with confidence that any required test can
meeting, and for Dr Simon it was getting
persisted. It was as a result of this frustration,
been expected at the government hospital.
be done at, or processed through the lab. In some cases, while certain Marcella A André
less common tests can be performed here, it is more cost effective to
send samples overseas. In most cases, the results are received within
two weeks. According to Mrs Simon, “Though the capability exists
for any test, we have to temper the capability with the demand and
cost effectiveness.”
Among the unique factors of Medpath is the existence of two
departments – histology and cytology - that can only function under
the direction of a pathologist. Medpath is the only private lab in
Antigua which functions this way. This point deserves mentioning,
since in many cases a technologist may not necessarily understand the
significance related to a particular process and the terms associated
with it. It is a matter of ensuring that the doctor can communicate
with someone who is able to discuss issues at a similar level.
“We have come a long way, we can look back and see the
landmarks that have been achieved along the way,” Mrs Simon says.
The Simons are satisfied with where they have reached, but have not
become complacent. As they continue to work hard in the present,
they continue to look toward the future. The goal is to eventually
have Medpath assessed, recognised and utilised as a reference by
external clinical labs. Succession planning, public education and
continuously bridging the gap between public and private practice
are also high on the list of concerns as they move forward. The
development of the staff is also a major focus. Almost all of the staff
members have been there for several years, and the Simons are full of
praise for the commitment and professionalism they have exhibited
over the years. They confess that Medpath would not be what it is
without these individuals.
This article would certainly not be complete without speaking
briefly about the influence Dr and Mrs Simon have had on their
children and the society. “I think children should be allowed a certain
amount of freedom,” says Dr Simon. He says this because though his
18 | BusinessFocus • August/September 2008
son Sawandi has followed in his footsteps as a doctor, he has moved
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