St. Maarten General Hospital will be name of new hospital | THE DAILY HERALD

~ Will have helideck, approximately 440 full-time staff ~

CAY HILL–St. Maarten General Hospital will be the official name of the new hospital that will be constructed in Cay Hill where St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) currently stands.

  SMMC will be transformed into a full-fledged hospital under its new name in the next three to four years, with ground-breaking for the new hospital expected to take place before the end of this year, SMMC General Director Kees Klarenbeek told The Daily Herald.

  The new state-of-the-art hospital will have a gross surface of 15,387square metres and have 110 inpatient beds, an increase from the current 66 beds at SMMC. The 110 beds will include eight ICU/CCU special care beds, 48 medical surgical beds, 38 mother-and-child beds and 16 day-care beds. Additionally, there will be three operating theatres, of which two will be general operating rooms and one will be a multifunctional intervention radiology cardiology (MIRC) room.

  There will also be four outpatient clusters; a dialysis clinic with up to 30 positions; a radiology department including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); two general practitioner clinics at the Emergency Room; and a helideck platform to allow helicopters to land and take off.  The new facility will also have a pharmacy.

  The employee base for the new hospital will consist of approximately 400 full-time employees.

  “Our aim is to develop SMMC into a prominent medical institution in the Caribbean,” Klarenbeek said.

  Simultaneously, a quality and safety enhancement trajectory will be embarked on with the aim of having the new facility become a Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited institution in the future.

  Klarenbeek said this will be an extensive project, but one that “we are eager to successfully accomplish. This is done with the sole purpose of providing the population of St. Maarten, and by extension Saba, Statia and other surrounding islands, with quality health care close to home. Our role in society is that of a care institution that leads by example, meets its obligations to its patients and stakeholders, and provides quality health care in a comfortable and safe environment.”

  He said the plan for the construction of the new hospital has always taken into account that SMMC must continue to operate as normally as possible while it is being built. In consultation with the contractor, SMMC has developed a plan that normal operations at SMMC will not be hindered in any way while construction is ongoing.

  “This requires lots of out-of-the-box thinking, as space at SMMC is already limited as is; hence, one of the reasons that we are using the Care Complex located adjacent to SMMC more for the delivery of medical services – e.g., our Eye Care Clinic is located there – and this will continue to be the case throughout the construction period.”

  Asked how SMMC is preparing for the new general hospital, he said SMMC will keep following its strategic plans that include the introduction of new medical specialties as it prepares for the new hospital. “But SMMC management and staff see it more than just the construction of a new hospital building: we all want to elevate the quality of care, delivery of medical specialties and customer service in general.”

  To do so, a quality and safety trajectory is embarked on that eventually should lead to JCI accreditation. JCI is a globally recognised standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. “That would mean that we would be the only hospital in the Dutch Caribbean that has JCI accreditation, which is a major accomplishment and a phenomenal boost in the level of health care offered.”


New specialties

  Klarenbeek said SMMC carefully assesses the medical needs of the population of St. Maarten before launching any new medical specialty, and based on that assessment a plan is made on how certain new medical specialties can be introduced at SMMC.

  New medical specialties on the agenda to be launched in the course of 2019 are neurology, orthopaedics and pulmonology. for Neurology, SMMC is exploring working agreements with Health City (a JCI accredited hospital) in the Cayman Islands and for pulmonology SMMC envisions working with specialists from the ABC islands and the Netherlands. So, it really depends on the medical specialty and where certain high-quality resources are available.

  Regarding financial support, Zorgverkeringskantoor ZVK from the Caribbean Netherlands provided financial support to realise the Eye Care Clinic as well as the urology specialty that started in August 2017.

  SMMC recently opened a new Eye Care Clinic with state-of-the-art equipment and also launched an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) facility, both of which are now full-time specialties available at SMMC, instead of only a visiting specialist being available on a part-time basis. “This guarantees the continuity of care and provides full-time coverage to patients not only in St. Maarten, but also in Saba, Statia and other surrounding islands.”

  Each introduction of a medical specialty is different in terms of where top-quality medical specialists can best be sourced from and with which medical institutions strategic partnerships can be forged.

  For instance: with the recent bolstering of the ENT facility, ENT specialists were recruited from Vijf Meren Kliniek (Haarlem), the Ede region and from Erasmus Medical Centre (Rotterdam) in the Netherlands. But for the new Eye Care (Ophthalmology) Clinic, SMMC recruited a team of eye care specialists from the Suriname Eye Centre, where also SMMC nurses were trained over a period of time to become technical ophthalmology assistants (TOA) so they could assist the specialists back home in St. Maarten.

  SMMC will not introduce a medical specialty if the numbers do not add up. “So only when the need for the specialty is really there to support the investments that will be needed to be made. Furthermore, by introducing a new medical specialty, it will also decrease the number of referrals abroad, which decreases the health care cost to the country.

  “SMMC’s continued mission is to provide quality care close to home. It’s been proven that when a patient can be treated and recuperate at home and with the support of family and friends, it is beneficial for the healing process. So, by adding more medical specialties that the population needs, we get closer in achieving our mission.

  “And, as stated before, this in turn will mean less referrals abroad which decreases healthcare cost to the country in general and having patients travel to St. Maarten for medical treatment instead of the other way around. This can also be seen as a diversification of our economy – medical tourism – and as such keeps/brings money in our local economy.”

Source: The Daily Herald


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