Building permit requested for construction of hospital | THE DAILY HERALD

CAY HILL–The start of construction of a new general hospital for St. Maarten inched one step closer to reality recently when St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) submitted its application and supporting documentation for the building permit for the new medical facility.

SMMC General Director Kees Klarenbeek told The Daily Herald on Wednesday that SMMC had submitted its request for building and hindrance permits for the new hospital this week.

“Based on the lessons learned from Hurricane Irma, we had to make changes to the specifications for building the new hospital. Those changes in the specifications are related to the necessary increase of the strength of the new building,” Klarenbeek said.

He added that Hurricane Irma had taught SMMC that the new hospital should resist winds of 200 miles per hour instead of 160 miles per hour and should be fully self-supporting for a longer period after a devastating event than originally anticipated.

“With the climate change in mind, we have to take in account that hurricanes like Irma can hit the island again somewhere in the future. Since this new hospital will have a lifespan of at least 40 years, we have to make sure that the new hospital building also will stay fully operational and will be a safe haven for patients and staff during and after the passing of major hurricanes. The population of St. Maarten, neighbouring islands and our tourists deserve nothing less,” said Klarenbeek.

Minister of Health, Labour and Social Affairs VSA Emil Lee said in a press release on Wednesday that Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Miklos Giterson and Permits Department Acting Head Charlon Pompier had been on hand to receive three boxes of supporting documentation for the new hospital from Klarenbeek and SMMC representative Erica van der Horst. Lee and Inso representative Enrico Raimondi were also present for the handing over.

“I was impressed by the sheer volume of documentation that is being submitted. It really does demonstrate how much work has gone into the designing of the new general hospital with revised specifications based on the post-Irma reality,” Lee said.

Lee said during the Council of Ministers press briefing on Wednesday that while he does not like to comment on “melee,” the content of a WhatsApp message circulating recently suggesting that the contract for the hospital building would go to one of his family members is untrue.

“I want to assure the public that the process [for the new hospital – Ed.] has been done extremely transparently,” he said. I have no personal financial interest, no family member has any financial or construction interest. I have not, do not and will not have any interest in the construction of the hospital in terms of the actual execution of the construction of the hospital.”

He said a public tender process had been conducted and the tenders had been opened in the presence of a notary. All the original bids are with the notary so that they can be reviewed in the event there is a future dispute.

Source: The Daily Herald