At what point does normal hospitality become something else?
Our story about the Simon Fraser University team coming to Barbados to research medical tourism caused a lively discussion on and off the blog. Folks raised all kinds of questions about the research, how it will be used and about who is funding the research.
On anonymous reader called “One who knows” stated the the Simon Fraser University team already arranged to meet with Barbados government representatives and that the government had plans to fete the Canadians with some tours, dinner at the Hilton and a boat ride with rum punch.
One of the team members, Assistant Professor Jeremy Snyder, wrote back to us (copied at the bottom of this post), answered a few readers’ questions and took a strong stand on his research team’s independence and funding.
We’re impressed! We don’t usually see that kind of transparency and ethics ’bout this rock. Although you can probably buy our own George or Cliverton for a bottle of Mount Gay’s finest, it sounds to us like Professor Snyder and his friends won’t be corrupting their report because somebody bought dinner and took them on a bus tour around the island.
But the discussion does raise an interesting subject: At what point does normal hospitality become something else? Where are the lines?
We’re pretty sure that Professor Snyder and his friends have their own standards and rules and probably the University and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research have theirs too. We don’t see a problem with these folks being particularly approachable for some of the nonsense that might be the case in other areas of business and research.
We don’t know if the researchers have ever been to Bim, but hospitality is done in a certain way here. We want the researchers to feel welcome and to have a good time while they are here working. I mean, why not? (Clive says he can’t understand why they didn’t come in January seeing as they are from cold Canada!)
How about a free villa for a week? Is that okay?
But where should the lines be drawn on hospitality? What if the government provides them with a driver and a vehicle for a day, or the week? What if the tour of the island turns into a sponsored party every evening? What if some of the team members are offered the chance to stay on the island for another week after the research – say at the villa of a government friend who just happens to be away for a few weeks and so the villa is available and wouldn’t be used anyway? Is that okay?
Nobody used to question where hospitality stops or should stop, or when a gift becomes something else, but increasingly Barbadians are becoming more aware of how our society is impacted by not having Conflict of Interest laws, Integrity Legislation or Freedom of Information. Our politicians promised these reforms a dozen or more times in the last 20 years, but they all lied. Hey, cause that’s what they do!
When Professor Snyder and his friends leave, we hope they take back some fond memories of Barbados and Bajans. Heck, if we see them at Oistins on Friday, we’ll buy them a drink ourselves and that’s for no obligation at all on their part.
But when Professor Snyder and his team are doing their research and writing their study, we want them to be alert to how our lack of laws about Integrity, transparency, conflicts of interest and general lack of standards and enforcement in many areas impacts Medical Tourism in Barbados.
Because… the lack of those laws and standards makes a difference. What differences and to what extent? Well, that’s for Professor Snyder and his researchers to study. 🙂
Welcome to Bim, Professor Snyder!
Here’s the post from Professor Snyder…
Dear Barbados Free Press,
We noticed that several of your readers have questions about our research project. Our project is funded by Canada’s main funding body for medical research, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. We are not receiving any finding from the Barbados government or any company, hospital, business, or other organization in Barbados. Nor have we received funds from any member of the international medical tourism industry.
We are very serious about maintaining the independence of our research. We are visiting Barbados because we study medical tourism. We have read reports that some Canadians obtain medical care in Barbados, and there seems to be some interest in attracting international patients to Barbados. We are interested in hearing from a diverse range of voices and perspectives. As such, we hope to speak with individuals involved in developing the medical tourism industry in Barbados during our upcoming trip there. We are also interested in speaking to individuals who are critical of efforts to attract international patients to hospitals and clinics in Barbados.
Whatever we find during our upcoming research development trip to Barbados, we aim to develop a fair, honest, and accurate account of what we learn about medical tourism on the island. If any of your readers would like to learn more about the kind of research we do, please feel welcome to visit our research website: http://www.sfu.ca/medicaltourism
Jeremy Snyder, Valorie Crooks, Rory Johnston, and Leigh Turner