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Termination of trust in the interim director and management team of the Mental Health Foundation.

Dear Dr. Felix Holiday,

 This letter has been composed to inform you about reasons for termination of trust in the interim­ director Ms. Eileen Healy, intended director and current medical coordinator Ms. Kitty Pelswijk and HR officer Mrs. Carina Ellis-Romney, by employees, due to structural long-lasting mistreatment and
abuse of power against employees of the MHF, in which we cannot speak anymore of good employer ship by the directors of MHF and the HR officer.

 History of Leadership Issues

 There have been bad records pertaining to high staff turnover before Ms. E. Healy retired in 2014. Ms. Healy got a new position as an advisor to the new director Mr. P. Lucas but was relieved from her function in less than 3 months. In 2017, an announcement was made to the staff of the intention to appoint Ms. E. Healy as the director or project coordinator. The staff was aware of the need for a director, as MHF relieved Mr. P. Lucas of this position and has been without a director for a couple of months. The previous union, United Federation of Windward Island Antilles(UFA) responded by sending a letter to the Board of MHF strongly advising to reconsider putting Ms. E. Healy in any leadership position. In addition, a meeting was held with the Minister of Public Health, Social Development, and labor (VSA) on this concern. Nevertheless, Ms. E. Healy has been hired on September 1, 2017, with one of her task being recruiting a new director. It is June 2020 and therefore, concluded there has been no real efforts and success in getting a director. Ms. E. Healy claimed there are no good candidates and applicants are asking for a high salary. This seemed to be an excuse to keep a leadership position for 3 years. For instance, there has been increase in recruitments between 2017 and 2020; there are now 4 psychologists,3 psychiatrists,2 clinic nurses,
4 case managers,11nformation and Prevention coordinator,2 social workers and 1occupational
therapist.

Culture of fear

 For a long period, the former and currently interim director of the MHF created a culture of fear amongst employees, systematically and continuously mistreating and abusing power towards selective employees, who want to remain anonymous due to fear of severe repercussion and incomplete transition to our new union ABVO. There is no one to speak out for staff, everyone in management (Ms. L. Jones, finance manager, human resources manager, medical coordinator/psychiatrist, and interim director) are committed to Interim director. Ms. E.Healy made it clear and sent a memo informing staff, she has the last say in all decisions. Furthermore, we are
experiencing the mistreatment from the intended director, Dr. Kitty Pelkwijk (it is announced she will be the replacement in Jess than a month moving from Suriname to work at MHF as a psychiatrist). Also, Mrs. Carina Ellis, human resources manager, wilfully adds unrest to the work environment by encouraging the ill-treatment of the majority of the staff. Below are examples of an unpleasant situation at MHF:

Use of Cameras' Footage and Tracking GPS

 Cameras are installed around the building with audio and GPS on company cars. The records are retrieved and used to reprimand staff based on management's conclusion, without staff seeing the actual records or discussing beforehand with the coordinator. As a result, the content of warning letters
is frequently not an actual description of the situation and is based on one-sided false information by
the directors of MHF. Furthermore, there should be an explanation of why the above is not use for all 30 plus employees. Why is management spying on employees who were not under the suspicion of illegal or criminal behavior by law? Security cameras and car tracking devices are not installed for these purposes, but for safety and data collection reasons. No policy for cameras with audio was handed or explained to staff, clients, and MHF's neighbor (whose voice could be picked up by audio). In addition, staff was informed of audio after cameras were installed in and outside the building.
The use of security camera footage and car GPS data by Ms. Healy is not only contributing to the culture of fear but is also a severe breach of the individual privacy and illegal by Jaw (Aigemene verordening persoonsgegevens;EU-AVG).

 Quality of care

 The interim director does not recognize and take responsibility for the problems regarding the quality of care pronounced by different caregivers of MHF. Instead,Ms. E. Healy criticizes caregivers' feedback. Moreover, Ms. Healy is systematically excluding certain experienced and highly educated healthcare workers from participating in the process of decision-making on medical content affecting clients' care. This top-down decision-making brings MHF healthcare workers in conflict with the loyalty to giving good care to our clients. Staff will face repercussions of the MHF interim directors for not following rules that may violate quality care to clients. The director is overly involved in certain planning but her role is indirect care, so she does not give treatments, do mentorship, evaluate care plans, and do not know clients' interest.
Secondly, in March 2020 the transition to a new electronic client dossier has a negative impact on the quality of care. There was little training that always included new changes in the system (as MHF is the first to use this system).In addition, medical information, including diagnosis and use of medication, were no longer available, which gives immediate and severe risks for the safety of the

giving care to clients.

 Nevertheless, Ms. Healy has the audacity to send an email blaming staff for low production and praise her effort for paying staff salary during COVID-19. The director is aware that all clients' data have not been transferred to the new clients' system. Also due to limited space, the clinic is booking appointments based on 3 available rooms.

Unworkable situation

 The above-mentioned problems are only a small part of the presented problems at MHF. The current situation is affecting the health of certain caregivers which has a negative effect on the quality of care of the clients. Ms. E Healy is creating tension at the workplace, involving herself in the department's situation (imposing to do things her way). The rules and regulations of the organization have not been updated since 2014, but staffs have to adhere to a lot of changes. In addition, management often references to policies that do not exist or have not been updated in years to argue their case against workers. There is also the hiring of staff, whose function is not clear and relevant at the moment. In conclusion, we cannot speak of good employer ship by law (Burgerlijk Wetboek; article 7:611) anymore and this has led to an unworkable situation for the caregivers of the MHF. Therefore the caregivers of the MHF are terminating the trust in the directors and the HR officer of the MHF.

It is regretful that it has come to this point and that the caregivers of the MHF feel the necessity to inform the board of directors, the Minister of VSA and the Inspector General Earl Best, about the deteriorating situation. It is expected that the board of directors will start with the process of taking adequate measures that will resolve the problem within the next two weeks after receipt of this letter. All affected caregivers will be open for discussion with strict confidentiality of mentioning names. We expect that the board of directors of the MHF will protect the caregivers against repercussions taken by Ms. Healy and Mrs. Carina due to sending this letter.

Equal and fair treatment

 The director is known for sending or saying insulting things( e.g.I am the boss no one should go to the board, I do not care about your emotions, I am paying your salary, you went to school but cannot speak/write English properly,I will get a lawyer and get rid of you if labor department does not agree). A small group can get away with wrongdoings, while those that are executing their job in honesty, fairness with passion, and dedication are penalized and embarrassed in front of other staff.
A health care institution should not be "functioning" on the favoritism of being friends or family. It should be functioning on dedicated professionals.

Solutions


We are proposing the following solutions:

 1. Board of MHF evaluates the management team {medical coordinator/psychiatrist, finance manager, and HR). Evaluate their performance, staff relationship, and assertiveness in making decisions that differ from Ms. Healy. and qualified to fill position temporarily.

 3. Do not appoint Dr. Kelpwijk director, start recruitment of a new director (should function independently and without fear that Ms. Healy nor Mrs.Carina can unfairly influence the continuation of employment).

 4. Provide training in human resources management to Mrs. Carina and evaluate after 3 months. Mrs. Carina should be reprimanded when she manipulates staff in signing documents. It should be clear she will not get away with being using the law only when it is convenient for management and not with staff.

In closing
In 2017 a letter was already sent to the board of the MHF and the then minister of VSA,find this letter attached. Clearly staffs are still suffering and the situation is deteriorating. We hope that this time we will be taken seriously. We hope that you as a board will not allow this structural problem to continue.

 Hoping to have informed you accordingly. Awaiting a prompt reply, within 2 weeks
We appreciate a response to all staffs' email; job email addresses can be retrieved from Executive
Assistant at MHF.

 Kind Regards, Concern MHF Staff

 Cc: the Honorable Minister of VSA,Richard Panneflek
Cc: Inspector General,Earl Best

Juancho Vrausquin Blvd.#11,Philipsbur& St.Maarten,E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..P:+1-721-5504348

 To: Mental Health Foundation
The Board and management team
Ms. Tess Blom
Leopard Road #1
Cay Hill, St. Maarten

 Attention: MHF Leadership

 Philipsburg, August 211 2017

 Dear Ms. T. Blom,

Although the MHF Board received a carbon copy of the letter send (email7/7/2017) to the Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor, Mr. E. Lee and a copy of the letter was presented to the MHF staff on the bulletin board at the MHFI the UFA never received an official written reaction from the MHF to the letter in question, which we regret.

Nevertheless, several UFA members reported that actions were taken by the MHF on some of the issues addressed in the abovementioned letter. Although the UFA welcomes the fact that actions are being taken and decisions were made to tackle some urgent issues, the UFA is not satisfied with the way in which they were shaped.

Concerning the issue of the President of the MHF it's reported that it has been communicated to the staff that the President will make his position available once a replacement has been found. The UFA is of the opinion that this is unacceptable for an organization in a situation as mentioned before because the recruitment- and appointment process for this position could take several months, therefore the UFA suggests that the President of the Board has to resign immediately and make his position temporarily available to one of the other board members while the Board will look for a replacement of the President

The other issue on leadership is the one reported on the intention or decision by the MHF to appoint Ms. E. Healy, a former MHF director, as the new director or interim director or project coordinator as from the 1st of September 2017.

The UFA is shocked that this option was even considered and communicated as a solution to the situation the MHF is in pertaining to the leadership of the organization. One of the biggest challenges the MHF is facing at the moment due to the lack of leadership and direction is staff turnover. The UFA mentioned the staff turnover as

Juancho Yrausquin Blvd.#11,

Philipsburg,St.Maarten, E:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..P:+1-721-5504348

being worrisome in the letter to the Minister and since that letter was sent a couple of employees left the MHF because they weren't satisfied with the current situation at the MHF.

It has been reported that Ms. E. Healy who is a former director of the MHF had a bad record pertaining to the staff turnover, mostly due to her lack of decent and effective communications- and leadership skills towards staff.

The UFA is of the opinion and strongly advises the MHF to reconsider the intention or decision to install Ms. E. Healy in whatever leading position at the MHF. The UFA is not convinced that having Ms. E. Healy in any such position will do staff or the MHF any good and her presence will ultimately jeopardize the operation of the organization.

In the meeting of Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 with the Minister of Public Health, Social Development, and Labor the UFA made her position clear in respect to the issues mentioned above. The UFA also mentioned that she would send a letter to the MHF
addressing these issues, the Minister explicitly requested to receive a carbon copy of
the letter.

We are, therefore, in the interest of the staff and clients of the MHF, requesting an urgent meeting with you to discuss these matters at your earliest, but no later than Monday, August 28th, 2017.

 

Hoping to have informed you accordingly, Awaiting a prompt response,

Yours truly,

 

 signature21062020

 

Mr. Lloyd Beaton, President of the UFA.
o.b.o. The staff of the Mental Health Foundation

 

 

 

 

cc: The Honorable Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor.


Regarding the Development at Beacon Hill; Another Dolphinarium?

Dear Editor,

It is with much concern that I read a news article regarding questions posed by Members of Parliament to the current Minister of VROMI concerning a potential development at Beacon Hill. My specific concern is related to the environmental and ethical impacts development of that size will have on the sustainable development and public image of Sint Maarten.

Although I must provide a caveat to my subsequent statement by saying that these are but rumors, I have particular concerns of information reaching me that this area is again being considered for another dolphinarium or swim-with dolphin facility. Sint Maarten is yet again faced with a rumored development of a captive dolphin facility, despite countless efforts by community-based organizations to oppose such facilities. Additionally, the negative international press attention such a facility can mean for the country cannot be understated, especially as it relates to Sint Maarten needing to diversify and become more sustainable as she recovers from the impacts of Irma and Maria and the Covid19 Pandemic. Aside from the ethical and moral reasons for not keeping dolphins in captivity there are also considerable negative socio-economic and environmental impacts that a development of that size will have, dolphins or no dolphins: the construction of such a large development will likely affect the longshore movement and deposit of sand along the critical tourism beaches of Maho, Mullet Bay, and Cupe Coy. The sand is at risk of being permanently washed away from these areas. Additionally, the building of a significant structure can also kill native seagrass and coral, of which we have already lost so much since Irma. If a dolphinarium is being considered, dolphin fecal matter coming from holding pens will increase the nutrient load in nearshore environments and can result in harmful algal blooms, skin irritations, and ear infections. I am sure that no visitor to the island will enjoy swimming in an area loaded with feces.

Captive Dolphin Parks and the communities that condone them are experiencing negative press through international pressure groups and movies such as Blackfish and the Cove; I would like to urge that consideration instead be given to a program where education and conservation of wild cetaceans including whales and dolphins is the focus, instead of captive programs which are inherently dangerous to the animals and the people that frequent them. This is the fifth time that Sint Maarten has had to respond to plans against a dolphinarium, whether rumored or not, and I would like Government and Parliament to seriously consider the enacting of the draft legislation which Dolphin Defenders submitted in 2011and every subsequent time development of this type is being considered.

As Sint Maarten emerges from the unprecedented effects of the lockdown further exacerbated by the lingering impacts of Irma and Maria, it is now time for the island to move towards high-end, sustainable, and nature-based tourism. It is time for the island to reinforce the conservation of natural areas for the benefit of the economy, the population, and for the maintaining of natural resources; the three pillars of Sustainable Development. It is not the time to again place focus or emphasis on an unsustainable, unethical, and irresponsible development for development’s sake which will negatively affect the image of our beloved Sint Maarten, whether the rumors are true or not. I, therefore, look forward to the response from the VROMI Minister to the questions requested from the Members of Parliament.

Tadzio Bervoets
Sur Salinja 30
Bonaire
+1 721 5864588

RELEASE OF NAMES OF COMPANIES THAT RECEIVED PAYROLL SUPPORT

Honorable Minister of Finance,

On behalf of the people of Sint Maarten and especially those persons who were financially affected due to the COVID-19 lockdown, I wish to thank you for creating the Sint Maarten Stimulus & Relief Plan (SSRP).

Via the SSRP you attempted to assist local businesses by means of two specific programs namely, the Payroll Support Program and the Lockdown Payroll Support Program. Both programs are to be financed via the liquidity support from The Netherlands. Since civil servants and personnel of government-owned companies also sacrificed a percentage of their salaries to enable the government to meet the conditions set by The Netherlands for the required liquidity support, it is more than just for these persons also get to know how the money is being spent.

In the Council of Ministers’ virtual press briefing on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, you stated that 479 businesses have already been paid out thus far. In light of transparency and accountability, I here hereby kindly request you to let the civil servants, the personnel of government-owned companies and the public in general know how the money was spent.

Consequently, I kindly request you to disseminate the following information:
1. A listing of the names of the businesses that applied for and were paid according to the Payroll Support Program? What was the total amount of money paid out and the total amount of employees involved?
2. A listing of the names of the businesses that applied for and were paid according to the Lockdown Payroll Support Program? What was the total amount of money paid out to these businesses and the total amount of employees involved in this program?

On behalf of the people of Sint Maarten, I wish to thank you in advance for providing the requested information.

Yours respectfully,

Wycliffe Smith
Leader of the SMCP

St. Maarten citizens and residents wants to return home.

Dear Editor,

My name is Ingrid and I am writing to the editor about what is going that is wrong. They are St. Maarten citizens and residents that are in the USA that were locked out when the island closed its borders. These citizens and residents and to come home.
The government page is stating to contact by email l which we did but to no use. Their are children up here their schools have been closed even the place they were living some had to leave because the lease expired or can’t afford to pay the rent they are hardly making it plus it has this epidemic and now protesting and Hurricane is upon us they need to be in their homes safe not stuck up here only GOD knows how some of them are making it they are suffering come on now. The same way Delta came in and pick up the Americans that were there the Prime Minister could have deal with Delta to bring her residents home to St. Maarten the same time before they stay here and get sick all other country and Island are bringing their citizens home only St. Maarten keeps blocking their people from coming home and be safe when the Prime Minister is saying she loves SXM remember SXM is the people and the people is SXM, not the island the people and what you do today comes back to bite you tomorrow stop leaving the people out in the rain and not allowing them to come to their shelter which is their home like the government did with Irma saying you cannot come to the shelter until the hurricane pass by that time bad things will already happen let learn us to love our people our youth not just by words for people to say good speech but by actions and feelings.

 Ingrid Grell.

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