Hospitals coop agreement now in Paris for signature

PHILIPSBURG–A pending cooperation agreement between St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) and the French-side hospital has been approved by the Council of Ministers and is now in Paris for signature by the French Government.

Once the agreement is signed, the two hospitals will be allowed to collaborate on medical and patient care.

Public Health Minister Emil Lee shared information about the draft cooperation agreement with Members of Parliament (MPs) in a public session of Parliament on Friday dealing with the state of health care and the development of a new hospital for the country.

Lee also addressed the ongoing spat between SMMC and the Inspectorate of Health. A proposal has been made to the two entities for the appointment of a mediator to help iron out the difference stemming from a pending audit of services.

The Inspectorate, on another topic, on the request of the Public Health Ministry has to develop a public communication plan to increase transparency.

The agency’s plan had been requested by the Ministry after patient information appeared on a blog site. Upon that request, it was established that the Inspectorate only had an internal policy and only allowed an official from the Ministry to review the document in-house and under supervision of a member of the Inspectorate’s staff.

These series of events led to the Ministry placing what was essentially a gag order on issuing public statements. The order was later lifted by the Ministry after an agreement was made to create a public communication plan.

MP Franklin Meyers (United People’s UP party) was not pleased that Lee did not provide information about the hotel properties that had positive tests for E. coli bacteria. The MP had asked Lee to provide the names of the properties that tested positive. If Lee did not give the names, Meyers said he would release them himself.

After that statement by Meyers, Lee said when situations are found they are dealt with immediately by health officials and releasing the names would not be helpful to the county’s tourism sector.

Source: The Daily Herald