PHILIPSBURG:--- Minister of Health Emil Lee announced on Wednesday at the weekly press briefing that during his recent trip to Aruba was to work on a cooperation agreement with regards to health care. He said one of the things Aruba needs is good health inspectorate which St. Maarten well-informed inspector health that and can assist Aruba through the agreement. Minister Lee said that the meeting held recently is a follow-up meeting to improve cooperation with the Dutch Caribbean partners and the Kingdom.
Therefore he is busy working on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in order to work closer with the Caribbean countries, especially Aruba. He said the cooperation agreement will allow the two countries to expedite an exchange of human resources manpower and expertise between the two countries.
He also mentioned that Aruba has a system (software) in place that allows doctors to upload patients’ files when they leave the islands for medical treatment in Colombia. He said that Aruba is also using COMEVA but did not have the software to upload patients’ files which the doctors/ hospitals in Colombia could access. He said delay St. Maarten is having when patients are sent to Colombia is that their files are never there on time. He said Aruba found a partner in Columbia that audits the medical bills instead of going through the hospitals itself. This he said is something St. Maarten could consider following the models used by Aruba and AZV.
The Minister of Health said while in Aruba he also discussed the National Health Insurance (NHI) that St. Maarten is looking into establishing. He said he met with former representatives if AZV who managed to share value information on the process Aruba used. He said this will help with the construction of the new hospital which CFT mentioned has to be in the business plan and the budget of St. Maarten. Minister Lee said with Aruba’s help the framework for the NHI could be worked upon while the details will be done on St. Maarten before it goes before the Council of Ministers for approval.
Apart from that the Minister said they are looking into establishing a review commission that would have representatives from St. Maarten, Curacao, and Aruba would deal with medical complaints after being sent abroad for medicare. Minister Lee said he lost a lot of time taking calls from patients that have had issues either related to services from SZV, or medicare, they received on the island. He made clear that one of the things that are lacking is a place where people could voice their concerns and or complaints that can also evaluate their situation in an objective manner. He said having such a commission that has representatives that are inter-island will avoid some of the local sensitivities. This would also help bring suggestions that would help improve services such as best practices and procedures.
In response to a question posed by SMN News as to why St. Maarten, namely SZV and SMMC are not considering bringing in specialists from Columbia or the Dominican Republic to work on St. Maarten part time, especially since so many patients have to be sent abroad. The Minister said that the referral of cases takes extremely long as it moves through the process, he felt the length of time the referrals take is way too long and one thing he as Minister does not understand is the reason patients have to be sent overseas for diagnosis. Minister Lee said the different entities are looking into the idea of bringing those specialists to St. Maarten to work part-time since they also have to do follow-ups with the patients they treat in their countries. Another issue the Minister said has to be considered is the type of equipment the SMMC will furnish the new hospital with when it is built. He said that St. Lucia built a new hospital that is fully furnished but not operational simply because they do not have the expertise and staff cannot operate the equipment'