From left: Head of Public Health, Fenna Arnell; Secretary of the Cabinet of Minister VSA, Chantale Groeneveldt; Inspector General at the Inspectorate of VSA, Dr. Earl Best; Acting Minister of Public Health, Leona Romeo-Marlin; SMMC Medical Director Dr. Felix Holiday; SMMC General Director Kees Klarenbeek and Head of Nursing SMMC, Antonio Pantophlet.
CAY HILL–A recent spike in the number of patients requiring dialysis, coupled with a reduction in the number of staff at St. Maarten Medical Center’s Dialysis Department, has led to a number of patients being referred abroad for treatment, Acting Health Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin said on Wednesday.
A total of three patients have since been referred abroad for treatment. In an effort to remedy this challenge, SMMC has engaged in discussions with the medical facility in French St. Martin to look into the possibility of cooperating, so that St. Maarten patients can use their dialysis facilities.
SMMC’s Nursing Department is also training recently recruited Registered Nurse (RN) graduates in dialysis care to bolster the manpower in the Dialysis Department. The training is expected to be completed in December.
Additionally, SMMC has added two dialysis stations to its Department to bolster its capacity.
Romeo-Marlin said she was made aware of the situation during a working visit to SMMC on August 16, in her capacity as acting Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA. During the visit, she met with SMMC General Director Kees Klarenbeek, who updated her on the current state of affairs surrounding the Dialysis Department and the ability of SMMC to “maintain the highest quality of medical care to its dialysis patients.”
“Recently, the number of patients increased while the number of nurses trained to work in the Department has decreased and as a result the management of SMMC has taken a number of decisions to remedy the situation,” she said. “In the interim to ensure the quality of medical care, some patients have been referred to medical institutions abroad. Discussions are also taking place to bring about a structural working agreement with medical services in French St. Martin, to seek the possibility of having dialysis patients tap into similar services next door. And this is in order to avoid more expensive overseas medical referrals.
Additionally, SMMC informed me that in the meanwhile, two new dialyses stations have been added to overall inventory to ensure that when the new nurses have completed their training, there will be sufficient capacity and quality medical care to meet the demand of medical services of SMMC,” Romeo-Marlin said during the Council of Minister press briefing.
She assured that “the problem will be fixed” when the new St. Maarten General Hospital has been constructed and patients will be accommodated. She, however, cautioned that there is need for the population to change their eating habits, which has to start in schools, or the problem will persist. “If we don’t start from in the schools teaching kids how to eat healthier, and teaching the population about healthy habits, even with a new hospital, the situation won’t change.”