PHILIPSBURG:--- Minister of Health Emil Lee praised his visit to Health City Cayman Islands and the services offered by the facilities. Minister Lee for the first time acknowledged that the negotiations with Health City Cayman Islands did not start with him but instead it started way before he took office and it was the Inspector General Dr. Earl Best who went to visit Health City to see if the facility is up to par to treat St. Maarten patients.
Minister Lee said the process got stuck when those that were negotiating found that it would be difficult for St. Maarten patients to get to Health City because most of the patients on St. Maarten does not have a US visa to go via Miami. He said it was not until in January when he attended the CHTA marketplace meeting in the Bahamas that he met a former colleague Minister where they decided to have a chartered flight to take St. Maarten patients to the Cayman Islands.
Minister Lee said cost products in the Cayman Islands is rather expensive since that island do not take out wage taxes from their employees, however, they do charge import duties causing the prices for products to be much higher than St. Maarten. However, he said that SZV and Health City managed to work out a fixed package for patients which would include airfare, housing, food and medical treatment. The pilot project will last for a period of eight weeks. Minister Lee said the first sets of patients departed St. Maarten on Wednesday morning with two staff members of SZV who accompanied them on the first trip.
Besides going to visiting Health City Minister Lee said he also met with the government of Cayman Islands where he discussed how they managed to control their dump fires since the Cayman Islands had the same problems with their dump as St. Maarten is having now. He said that at this moment he sees the Cayman Island as a good partner to exchange information on dealing with several issues affecting St. Maarten.