Nina den Heyer
THE HAGUE/KRALENDIJK–The concentration of laboratory care at one laboratory, namely at Bonaire’s Mariadal Hospital, will result in chaotic situations that occurred when the pharmacy at the hospital closed earlier this year with long waiting lines and problems with the issuing of medication.
Bonaire’s Executive Council explicitly wants to prevent such situations from recurring, stated Commissioner Nina den Heyer in a November 18 letter to Bonaire’s Island Council, in which she voiced her frustrations about the one-sided decision of the Dutch government to terminate the contract with one of Bonaire’s two laboratories, Bonlab, next year.
According to Den Heyer, there is a growing number of complaints about the distribution of medication by the Mariadal Foundation, the organisation that runs the local hospital. She said the effect of long waiting lines to pick up medication was the result of the closing of the pharmacy at the hospital.
“Complaints about waiting times of one to 1.5 hours, often in the blazing sun, were no exceptions. Thanks to the concentration of the pharmacy care, the suboptimal distribution of medication has become a multiheaded monster. Recently, the Mariadal Foundation suspended its provision of services after it had become unreachable due to the heavy rainfall,” stated Den Heyer.
The commissioner fears that with the concentration of laboratory services at the hospital and the ceasing of Bonlab, situations such as these will happen again. Bonaire’s government would rather see a solid collaboration between Bonlab and the Mariadal Foundation, and not a concentration as happened with the pharmacies, so patients do not become the victim again, stated Den Heyer.
In a letter dated October 2022, the Mariadal Foundation indicated that if laboratory care were to be concentrated at the hospital, this would present challenges in terms of capacity, logistics and the design of the facilities.
Den Heyer was critical of Dutch State Secretary of Public Health, Welfare and Sport Maarten van Ooijen, who on November 15 informed the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament that the contract with Bonlab would be terminated per January 1, 2023, followed by a transition period of six months.
According to Den Heyer, Van Ooijen created the “wrong perception” by suggesting that the Executive Council did not share its view on the closing of Bonlab until October 2022. She made clear that the Executive Council in November 2021 already indicated its preference to maintain two laboratories.
Bonaire’s Island Council took a similar, unanimous decision one month later. And, in July this year, during his visit to Bonaire, the local government again expressed its specific wish to have two laboratories in the interest of continuity and guaranteeing good service for the people.
Den Heyer pointed out that the report to which the state secretary referred, which stated that it was undesirable to have two laboratories because of inefficiency, dated back to 2016. She explained that the situation in Bonaire six years ago was different. Since then, the laboratory at the hospital was expanded, and the population grew from 19,000 in 2016 to almost 23,000 in 2022.
The commissioner noted that it was not strange that there were more diagnostics in Bonaire compared to the Netherlands. She said that the problematic socio-economic status of many residents, who lived under the poverty line, had a direct influence on people’s health, which caused a higher need for healthcare and thus laboratory tests.
Den Heyer was further critical of the fact that the state secretary did not receive the delegation of the Bonaire Island Council and her person when they were in the Netherlands in November. Instead, the state secretary delegated two civil servants to have talks with the Bonaire delegation. The Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations did receive the Bonaire delegation.