SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) – St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) has taken note of a media report from Omrop Fryslan that was published today in which a recently arrived rotational specialist has made statements which are not accurate. SMMC hereby rectifies these as follows.
Intensivist Dr. Rik Gerritsen stated in a telephone interview with the Dutch media outlet that SMMC does ‘not have experience with dealing with COVID-19’ and that the recent increase of positive cases is ‘St. Maarten’s first wave of COVID-19’. This statement is not accurate as SMMC has dealt with the prior increase in positive cases in April and has Doctors employed that wrote the guidance protocols in treatment of COVID-19 patients according to case studies by hospitals around the world and are in line with best practices as outlined by the CDC, WHO and RIVM national institutes.
Dr. Gerritsen has apologized for his statements and deeply regrets for the candor in which these were made as he just starting working here on August 17th at SMMC for a period of 5 weeks. “In hindsight, I made statements when I did not have all information at hand, as such statements about SMMC’s experience dealing with COVID-19, the ventilation capacity and comparing the situation with Italy’s first wave of COVID-19 were not accurate. For this I would like to sincerely apologize to the people of St. Maarten and my fellow colleagues”.
The hospitalization rate is showing a downward trend over the past 2 days. Nevertheless, SMMC temporarily halted all non-emergency medical procedures and surgeries until further notice. This is in an effort to accommodate the recent influx of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization and create additional capacity in terms of beds and staff should the need arise.
SMMC is currently in the process of increasing their capacity with the addition of a Medical Container Park (MCP) that will replace the ICU tent and the Mobile Medical Pavilion (MMP) while offering increased storm resilience. The ICU section of this facility is expected to be completed early next week with patients being able to be transferred upon completion. The completion of the medium care section will follow soon thereafter. The completion of the facility would allow for COVID-19 patients to be transferred, which would either enable the resumption of non-emergency procedures and surgeries or would help increase the COVID-19 capacity, should the need arise.
Patients will not be kept at the MCP once a storm poses a direct threat to St. Maarten and will be transported to SMMC. In case of storm threat, high risk, non-COVID-19 patients may be evacuated to an approved nearby evacuation facility, or airlifted to a hospital within the Dutch Kingdom if needed.