PHILIPSBURG:— The results of the Rotary/VOSH clearly demonstrates that St. Maarten needs to have its own ophthalmology department. While the statistics are impressive, the stories about how people’s lives are being changed with small simple gestures is just amazing” said Minister Lee during the press briefing on Wednesday. The Minister was referring to the free eye examination that took place last week at the white & Yellow cross located in St.Johns estate. This event was an initiative of the Volunteer Optometric Service to Humanity ( VOSH) and hosted by the Rotary club of St. Maarten.
The Minister informed that 1422 patients got eye exams, and that 3000 pairs of glasses and sunglasses were given away. 1/3 of the examination were for children, 1/3 for seniors, and 1/3 were for adults including teenagers. Because it’s important to protect your eyes from UV light, sunglasses were also given out.
There were also a number of cases that came out of the eye exams where patients required immediate follow up care. “There were patients who were diagnosed with Diabetic retinopathy, which is a complication as a result of diabetes with high levels of sugar in the blood that damages the back of the eye. If untreated, this can eventually lead to blindness. Also, there was a 16 year old who was brought to tears after receiving a pair of eyeglass , which enabled her to see the world as she should” informed Minister Lee.
Terms of Reference of landfill should be improved
Minister of public Health, social development, and Labor Emil Lee has asked the Health inspector General’s office, and the Panamerican Health Organization (PAHO) to give him an initial opinion on the Terms of Reference for the landfill.
“Their initial feedback is that the Terms of Reference for the landfill could use more specification and detailing. I have met with Minister Angel Meyers with whom I have an excellent relationship, and our assessment is that the terms of Reference can be improved. “The improved specifications should help to dramatically reduce the negative impacts of the landfill. VROMI is already working on taking steps to make structured changes to the way the landfill is being maintained” said Minister Lee.
The Inspectorate General team has met with the contractor who is working at the landfill, and they are assisting them in terms of following protocols from a health and safety perspective of the workers at the landfill.
“Their report back to me was, that the meeting was extremely productive, and that the landfill operator and staff are now within compliance from an occupational health and safety perspective” informed the Minister.
“VSA is now cooperating with VROMI, and I am confident that with the feedback from external stakeholders, we can find an improvement in the way that the dump is being managed” said Minister Lee.
Care contracts with SZV being finalized says Minister Lee
In keeping with the Minister’s vision to improve the quality of health care provided, the Minister is working with SZV to establish a care agreement with the hospitals and patient service companies that patients are referred to abroad. Thus far, a care agreement has been finalized with Curacao, one with the Dominican Republic is being finalized and by the end of June an agreement with Columbia should be complete. These care agreement help regulate the quality and costs of medical care for the people of St. Maarten. Furthermore, the Ministry in collaboration with key stakeholders will also establish a committee that focus on reviewing and evaluating the financials and quality of care of all medical referrals.
During the press briefing on Wednesday, Minister Lee also made mention that patients who are referred abroad often have to request for an extension of their stay due to the fact that the quality of medical records provided to the specialists are of poor quality. This is frequently a result of how medical records are prepared for the transfer process, where PDF files are not legible or information is lacking. Therefore, in order to reduce the number of patients requesting an extension for this reason, Coomeva will propose a form (check list) for all the medical information that SZV must provide in order to make this process more efficient. Additionally sometimes delays occur because patients arrive with complications that are un-diagnosed which also cause delay in treatment.
In a meeting that was held with SZV & COOMEVA, the possibility of improving the information provided to the patients and families that are being transferred abroad was discussed. Coomeva will develop information material for SZV to provide to the patients before departing to Colombia. This material includes basic information about Colombia and its cities, how to manage the way out from the Airport, how to contact the driver, key contact info of the Coomeva Team, what is the recommended and appropriated dress code for every city depending on the weather, how is the traffic in every city, etc. Coomeva will send a photograph of the driver and the key contacts of the company just to make the a patient and families feel more comfortable.
60% referrals for diagnosis, needs to be reduced
Minister of Public Health, Mr. Emil Lee held a follow up care contract meeting with SZV and Coomeva which is the Columbian company that manages the needs of patients for medical care in Columbia, in order to discuss several issues and come up with solutions for the way forward. “Considering that 60% of the medical referrals abroad are related to diagnosing medical issues, one of the main outcomes of the meeting was a solution to help reduce this amount. Instead of patients going to Columbia for diagnosis Coomeva will design and propose a program in which in alliance with selected Colombian providers (Hospitals) certain specialist will visit St. Maarten periodically in order to support the local diagnosis of the patients and make the referral process more efficient”. This will also provide an opportunity for visiting physicians to follow up on patients that received care in Colombia stated Minister Lee in press briefing on Wednesday. In addition Minister Lee is working together with the French side to utilize their Tele-medicine room which allows for remote diagnosis of patients by the means of telecommunication technology.
Source: St. Martin News Network
St. Maarten needs to develop ophthalmology care says Minister Lee