Two doctors depart Mental Health Foundation to develop their skills | SOUALIGA NEWSDAY

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) – Dr. Gandotra and Dr. Kour, who commemorated eight years of services to the Mental Health Foundation, (MHF) have decided to further develop their skills in the United Kingdom.

Last Saturday evening, the MHF staff, board, partners and stakeholders all gathered at the Holland House for a farewell party for Dr. Gandotra (Dr. Kour left for the UK in November last year).

Together, we looked back on the developments and accomplishments over the years and thanked Dr. Gandotra and Dr. Kour for all their efforts.


Towards the end of 2010, the MHF was looking for a psychiatrist. At a global conference for psychiatrists in Germany, the opportunity to employ a psychiatrist from India arose.

From the many psychiatrists that the MHF had flown to St. Maarten and interviewed in 2 years of searching, Dr. Gandotra was the only one prepared to take on the job. A job with the challenge of a developing mental health facility start-up on a small island, for which he left a renowned high-end university setting at ‘’The Central Institute of Psychiatry’’ in Ranchi India.

After the board signed the contract with Dr. Gandotra, it was the difficult task of director Eileen Healy to bring knowledge and cultures together. But professionalism, high standards and team efforts made it work for eight years, which is much longer than either had anticipated.

In those eight years, a lot has happened.

  • Dr. Gandotra helped the MHF to expand its care products from Ambulant (psychiatric home care), Faraja (day treatment) and Clinic care, to adding on Admissions & Crisis Intervention. Additionally, Anguilla has psychiatric care now too.
  • Psychogeriatric care (care for people with dementia) commenced at the White and Yellow Cross Foundation (WYCF), for St. Martin’s Home, the District Nursing and the Day Treatment for elderly people with dementia.
  • A care agreement with Mental health Caribbean (MHC) for Saba and St. Eustatius was established.
  • The doctor contributed to the Justice system by writing prosecutor reports for forensic patients in prison and the police stations.
  • Dr. Gandotra and Dr. Kour significantly contributed to research by conducting several studies. For the WYCF, they studied the effect of coconut oil and dementia and researched the need for palliative care on St. Maarten. Due to this study, the WYCF is now developing Palliative care (for the terminally ill).
  • For the MHF, they studied the ‘’patients profile’’ and the ‘’service utilization’’ for the conference “Transforming Care” in October 2013. All studies were published in renowned international psychiatry magazines.
  • Lastly, Dr. Gandotra learned to speak Dutch and became a Dutch St. Maartener during his tenures on St. Maarten.
  • At his farewell party last Saturday at the Holland House, several friends and colleagues expressed their gratitude for all his efforts over the years. Dr. Holiday (president of the board of the MHF) said he appreciated all the efforts, in developing the foundation to what it is today, as well as the personal friendship that developed over the years.

    Dr. Albert van de Waag was instrumental in facilitating the studies through the American University of the Caribbean (AUC). He also thanked Dr. Gandotra and Dr. Kour for their achievements and ongoing friendship. Dr. Mercuur (former MHF board member and who still provides medical support) thanked Dr. Gandotra on behalf of the General Practitioners and emphasized that he learned a lot about psychiatry in the past years.

    Dr. Gandotra thanked the board and the director but mostly the staff that have considerately contributed to the development of providing quality care programs for the clients today. MHF Admissions Coordinator Donna Wint, Faraja Day Treatment Coordinator Giselle Codrington, the Ambulant nurses and the Outpatient care team of nurses and psychologists.

    ‘’Normally, you enter into an established facility, but the MHF was a small growing facility. Being part of that development is a valuable learning experience that I could not have had anywhere else in the world’’.

    Both psychiatrists’ have been a great asset to St. Maarten. The staff, patients, board and director of the Mental Health Foundation would like to thank Dr. Gandotra & Dr. Kour, for their vast contribution in the development of psychiatry on St. Maarten. We wish them both much success in their new endeavours in the United Kingdom and hope they will return in the future.

    Mental Health Foundation Sint Maarten

    Source: Souliga Newsday