CFT reps briefed on plans for new hospital

CFT, Ministry of Health, SMMC, SZV and KPMG representatives.

 CAY HILL–Representatives of the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT were briefed on the progress being made for a new hospital for St. Maarten during a meeting at St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) on Thursday, February 8.

The meeting was coordinated by the tripartite group consisting of representatives of the Ministry of Health, Social Development and Labour VSA, Social and Health Insurances SZV and SMMC.

CFT representatives were given a presentation during the meeting and were taken on a tour of SMMC. The presentation highlighted the need for improved healthcare in St. Maarten and the scope of quality care to be provided in the new hospital, it was stated in a press release on Sunday.

The progress of healthcare reform, including addressing the cost of prescription drugs, streamlining the referral process and cooperation with French St. Martin, and quality control of medical professionals, was also part of the presentation.

CFT was also briefed on the project plan schedule, which includes funding, training of staff, JCI accreditation, medical tourism and collaboration with international specialists through exchanges and telemedicine.

“When we speak of the new general hospital there is often focus on the building. The plans for the new facility include plans for new services, accreditation of quality, new equipment which we do not have now, updated equipment of which we are in need, facilities to welcome new and needed specialists, training of the current staff, more rooms for patients and the list goes on.

“We are not moving the old into the new. The new general hospital will be one of the key mechanisms towards improving quality care on St. Maarten. The meeting with CFT was very positive, we will continue to update the CFT and provide additional information in support of the conversations with the World Bank,” Health Minister Emil Lee said.

CFT’s comments “were positive,” and indicated that the presentation was “impressive,” the release said.

The new hospital is projected to be completed within three years. “The need for the new hospital is evident, as all stakeholders agree that the quality of care in the country should be improved and needs a combination of mechanisms and structures in place to do so,” the release said.

“For many years we at SZV have been juggling the task of travel agents and mediators, sending our customers abroad for medical care. Yes, it does not always go as planned. A hurricane passes, an airline cancels, a specialist is fully booked, the challenges are pages-long for our customers and us at SZV.

“By advocating for the new general hospital we are creating the opportunity for our customers to be at home when they are ill instead of travelling while ill to a foreign country, sometimes alone and with language barriers. Care close to home is what we want for our customers,” SZV Director Glen Carty said.

“For the Ministry of VSA, it was important that the process and execution of the project was done in (a) systematic and transparent manner, this way ensuring that the project is sustainable and that checks and balances could be monitored.

“Close to 70 per cent of the insured population of St. Maarten is insured via SZV and there is an annual rise in medical referrals abroad which are processed not only by SZV, but also private medical insurance companies. Having a new general hospital capable of serving the population based on its needs would significantly reduce the costs of referrals abroad for SZV. These costs rank up to millions of guilders each year as travel, lodging and daily allowances are also included,” the release said.

The tripartite group was formed in March 2015 by SZV. Its goal is to collaborate and work towards a sustainable approach to improving health care in St. Maarten.

Source: The Daily Herald